[Circa Summer 2001 – family vacation. Driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.]
I was a child, but I still remember staring down an endless stretch of the highway to Las Vegas, seeing the shimmering haze above a sea of cars in a 40+ degree desert. Sweating despite blasting the AC for hours on end was nauseating and I couldn’t imagine what it was like outside the car. The heat was suffocating. Looking down that road, I couldn’t even fathom the impact that so many cars were having on the environment, adding to the heat. I still can’t.
It’s no secret that driving on the 401 is a nightmare. It’s always congested no matter what time of day – every hour is peak hour and peak hour is just a standstill. So on ‘average’, you’re driving in something like this:
And this is just the stretch of the highway you’re on. Imagine the rest of it. Happening for hours. Every day. Every week. I can’t wrap my head around the sheer volume of automobiles on the road.
It also boggles my mind that the government allows people the freedom to use cars (I’m sure I’ll find an old tweet of mine if I dig around enough). Sure they’re regulated – we obey traffic lights, stop signs, etc. but essentially we are steering large steel masses capable of killing people and we’re basically being entrusted to “not kill people or damage property”. In 2013, 32,719 people were killed in the States by vehicles. That’s one in every 10,000 people. In Canada, there were 1,923 fatalities, or one in every 20,000. Because we’re entrusted with giant machines on wheels.
As you can tell, I’m not a huge car fanatic, but I understand their utility – getting around especially if you have a family or are travelling long distances. However, I feel the number of cars on the road is unnecessarily inflated. This post could be twice as long if we get into why people need to travel distances farther than what is walkable, but as it stands right now, I feel this is all the more reason to urbanize.
Let’s stop relying on the car. Stop generating all this pollution. Stop the unnecessary fatalities. Easier said than done, but let’s start with this intention.