Monday, August 3, 2009

The Car Control Movement!

Most people I know own a car. Many own several cars. It's pretty much expected that to get around any area of the United States, you need to have a car, especially if you don't live in a major metropolitan area (such as New York) that has extensive public transit.

However, a whole lot of people have cars but don't know how to use them. I base this on my experiences living in diverse places like Nashville, Albuquerque, and Atlanta, and my visits to parts of Florida, New York, and Virginia. There are far too many people on the road who don't know when or how to use a turn signal, don't check the blindspot before changing lanes, and don't understand why the "passing lane" or "fast lane" was given those titles. I witness numerous occasions each week where a clueless motorist could be prosecuted for what I call FTMP--Failure to Merge Properly. I haven't yet mentioned the Creepers, those poor souls who drive around any turn as slowly as they possibly can. Or the Cloggers, the aformentioned folks who drive at or below the speed limit in the far left lane. (In Germany, you get ticketed and fined for that on the Autobahn!)

I mention this because driving is dangerous. More people are killed every year in car accidents than in plane crashes or skydiving accidents. Those deaths include motorcyclists and pedestrians. Before the development of the modern automobile, the term "roadkill" had no meaning. By most statistical measurements that I could find, even the number of accidental gunshot wounds is eclipsed by the number of auto deaths. I believe this is worth mentioning because while the Constitution guarantees a right to "keep and bear arms," the Constitution gives no such protection to a particular form of transportation. Driving is a privilege, not a right. It's because of this that I propose a new socio-political movement, the Car Control Movement!

I would love to see protestors outside the Capitol campaigning for justice for all those injured or killed in avoidable traffic accidents. I believe that those applying for drivers licenses be subjected to a thorough background check to make sure they've never experienced road rage. The drivers test that you had when you got your first permit? Child's play. The whole system should be revamped so that all new drivers have GRE-level nightmares before they take it. Cops should be allowed to issue one warning for FTMP, after which it is a criminal offense.

The thing is, people respect a gun. It's designed to destroy stuff. That is its purpose. Cars, on the other hand, are not designed to destroy things, but they are capable of it anyway. A friend of mine once referred to cars as "big bullets," and I think that's an appropriate description. Our society needs to learn to respect cars the way it respects weapons, probably more because more people own cars than guns. But instead, too many people treat a car like a big, fast toy. Statistically, your odds are better of dying in a car crash than being killed parachuting from an airplane. Most of the people who are on the road right now won't jump, but they will drive. And the strongest advocate of federal gun control probably drives to an office somewhere everyday on a highway filled with inattentive, poorly-trained, drowsy, cell-phone-using maniacs with keys.

The Car Control Movement--because it shouldn't come down to seatbelts and airbags.