Location and the necessity of the automobile
Depending on your chosen area of residence, using a car may not be something you need to do all that much. For instance, if you live in a small town or city with a good bus or tram service then a car might in some cases not be required at all for day to day living.
But in some cities, a car is simply a necessity. If you’ve ever spent any time in LA you would probably be in agreement that being there and not being able to drive (or choosing not to) would be very much a minority thing.
Driving and risk
Now, it may be something that we don’t really like to give a lot of thought to, and don’t often discuss, but with road travel there comes risk. But every day there are around 3000 fatalities on roads worldwide. Hopefully this is a figure that will lessen as time continues, probably due to advances in vehicle technology and the further development of telematics systems.
The Zero Vision approach
The Zero Vision approach to road safety is built on the concept that one day there will be no fatalities or people seriously injured on the roads. The Zero Vision approach originally came from experts working out of Scandinavia – a territory which has traditionally invested heavily in road safety. One result of this investment is that Norway and their neighbour Sweden have among the lowest numbers of road traffic deaths worldwide.
Variance of risk
Unfortunately, not all areas of the world have the same level of safety – and according to the most recent World Health Organisations statistics, the mortality rates from road traffic injuries in Russia are about 5 times higher than for the UK. And picking another country entirely at random – Kuwait has about four times as many fatalities as the UK.
The billion car planet
While many cities worldwide invest in public transport infrastructure so that their streets have fewer cars and therefore (hopefully) less congestion, the fact remains that there are more cars in existence now than ever before. Estimates are that around a billion cars are in use.
Sure, many of the new cars will be driven by people in developing economies where the roads may not be so full. But it certainly looks as if the human love affair with automotive transport is still very much ongoing.
Possible traffic futures: a brave new world?
Now, let us think – just for a second – about what the future could plausibly hold…
Graphene vehicles so light that the petrol in the tank weighs more than the vehicle itself. Except there will be no petrol by then, perhaps. Some kind of clean sustainable hydrogen technology in its place. And driverless, too.
It’s fair to say that when the first mass produced cars rolled off the assembly line back in the early 20th century, an incredible journey had just begun – one that we are still on to this day.