Some students continue to fuel America’s obsession with cars over any other means of transport, including bicycling, walking and bus riding, and fail to take responsibility for vehicle fatalities that result.
Drivers and pedestrians alike are not completely ignorant of the dangers of driving. On the contrary, traffic fatality numbers and statistics are readily available on the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) website. However, many people are still in complete and absolute denial of these dangers.
In 2011, Governor Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would ban texting while driving, according to a Feb. 26 Austin American-Statesman article. It seems society is at an unfortunate place because the governor senses the people of Texas would rather defend their freedoms to drive as they please than to sensibly reduce them. Many people have seemed to decide it is safe to essentially operate a handheld computer while driving a vehicle. This may seem like an absurd act, and rightly so.
I would be remiss to say I have not participated in many of the ills associated with driving. But that is exactly why I try to relegate driving to the times when I absolutely must, and I take the bus or ride a bicycle whenever possible.
It is amazing to think that, despite all of the fatalities that have arisen from car accidents, there are many drivers who have had horrific crashes and survived. Students see these types of incidents on the news every day. Think about how much force it takes in order to destroy a modern vehicle and how much research and development goes into designing the safety aspects. Despite everything, engineers who build cars could not save the 3,015 people who died in motor vehicle incidents in 2011 across Texas, according to the same TxDOT statistics.
In order to avoid the societal cognitive dissonance associated with the dangers of driving, students may pass blame onto the “boogeyman” of drunk driving. Some may rush to blame the “idiotic” or “selfish” drunk driver whenever there is an exceptionally tragic alcohol-related accident. Students may do this as if no one else was driving drunk, as if many of them have not driven drunk before and as if it was much more heinous than a crime they could commit. Some students do not find fault in those instances. Blame is sometimes placed on the crooked bar or drink tender who served the person too much and so on. Students may rush together to throw together some law or try to shut down some establishment because, well, it sure was not their fault.
In Mass Media and Society, my peers and I read a passage from a book about euro-centrism. It posits that euro-centricity, bias toward anything European, is engrained so thoroughly in American society, that even sincere attempts at inclusion of other societies are trivial at best. This is exactly how I feel about driving. In the American car-dependent society, students do not tend to see any of the cons associated with driving in their day-to-day lives.
As my mom has told me several times, “Mijo, you have to have a car.” When it comes to motorized personal transport, as a society, students appear to be all in. Reliance on this transportation would be fine if only students were realistic about it. However, this is not the case.
The dangerous condition of the roads is not any one person or establishment’s fault. It is everyone’s fault. Driving fatalities are just one of the symptoms of the overall condition—a condition which emphasizes expediency over everything. As those suffering from an addiction may say, the first step is admitting one has a problem.