Are cars the killers we tolerate?

Thousands and thousands of people die every year in traffic accidents. Below are some stories from the past few days and I could have listed many more. Every government will tell you it’s trying to reduce road deaths, but is this about our attitude rather than government inertia?

Nine children killed in an SUV in Mexico

Seven die in collision in England

Hundreds take road safety pledge in South Africa after 32 die in one province in one day last week.

Australia will miss road safety targets says its Transport Minister.

10 per cent of accidents in the world happen in India. People show no respect for safety this site says.

Is the reality that we like driving freely, more than we want to reduce the risk on the road, and that we might not vote for a government which stops us driving as we do now?

Are we prepared to make the compromises some argue are necessary to mark driving safely?

Cars could have speed limiters, different road design could restrict speed, stricter regulations on car maintenance could be introduced along with harsher punishment for those who ignore them, tax could be lifted on cars and fuel to make public transport more attractive, ban men under 25 from driving (they cause more crashes than anyone else)… And on I could go with suggestions some campaigners are making.

But is it as simple as that? Would these measures work? And would they restrict one of the great ‘liberators’ of the last 100 years?

Cars give us a freedom that nothing else offers. Should we hold that dear, even if some people will inevitably die? Life after all can’t be risk free.

92 Responses to “Are cars the killers we tolerate?”

  1. March 11, 2008 at 13:12

    Its true cars give us the freedom that we ned but to a lesser extent especially in Uganda, where the CITY and the roads were not planned. The current plan cant allow many vehicles and now you find that MOTOCYCLES worl better especailly during the rush hours of the day. Because these Motocycle operators arent sensitive to the other road users, they end up causing tragic accidents which have left many people dead.

    I beleive its not about limits and raod signs but rather patience of the drivers to know that many users are mad. In fact a good driver should regard himself sane and the rest of teh raod users insane. By this, I believe we shall have a reduced number of accideints.

    Reprimands could also work because they tend to discourage reckless driving and also promotes serenity. In most of these countries( Ugadna inclusive) the traffic officers arevery corrupt and do not consider reprimands to the reckless drivers as important but rather consider their stomachs as being better off.

    We need to consider overhauling our traffic control system.

  2. 2 GrahameS
    March 11, 2008 at 13:40

    It is not cars that are to blame, as are not knives or guns for the deaths they become instrumental in. Is it the perverse political corretness of the day that leads so called civilised society to keep its head well buried deep underground. In the case of the car incident in England, on a road I know very well since I was born only a few miles distanrt in that rural communitty, – and as is the case with 90% of the violent offences that hit the headlines, the offenders are usually well known as offenders. They always have previous records. Often they have already forced their destructive influence onto innocent and possibly perfect citizens. Yes! I am expanding this argument beyond “car killings”. For some bizarre reason our judiciary and politicians accept the compete loss of innocent members of our society and extend the existance of those that are habitually destructive. In England the driver had a record of dangerous driving and an almost catastrophic near miss at much the same spot on the same road, a year ago. Six innocent lives (lives with pasts/futures/dependants/dreams) were snuffed out not because a stupid driver took a stupid risk, because this was his instinctive habit, but were snuffed out because of a stupid judiciary and justice system, and the absence of duty to adequately protect the law abiding public at large. This failure of our justice system is especially infuriating when you see the violent offfenders, the rapists, the killers, who deprive our communities of good innocent people, and who are released back onto our streets to terrorise and reoffend again and again. It is so easy to categorise the really bad guys, but our lawyers and judges let us all down.

  3. 3 Brett
    March 11, 2008 at 13:47

    Here are some ideas.

    Heavily tax the armored tanks (Hummers, Suburbans, Envoys, Navigators, Expeditions, Titans, etc.). Not only do they waste and suck down gas, but they are a threat to other drivers on the road. In addition to this, arrest and fine the redneck idiots with their raised SUV’s and pickups (the ones where the bumpers are right at head-height to the rest of the drivers on the road). Then, when they do get into accidents and are found at fault, prosecute them for manslaughter and lock them up.

    The want and need to have the biggest tires, the tallest lift, and the largest and loudest SUV/Pickup so that everyone will notice you needs to stop.
    That can be the first step to less traffic fatalities.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. 4 John in Salem
    March 11, 2008 at 13:57

    From an evolutionary standpoint the automobile will probably surpass nuclear weapons as the worst technology our species could have developed and there is nothing we will not sacrifice to have it – our own lives, our children’s lives, even the planet itself.
    We don’t just tolerate them – we worship them.

  5. 5 carlos King
    March 11, 2008 at 14:09

    Hi Ros and WHYS family,

    The answer to your question: are cars the killers we tolerate? is YES. A carelessly/recklessly driven motor vehicle is the amongst the most lethal of all weapons.

    In many countries of the world guns, knives, spears ects. are restricted but have you every seen or heard of prohibitions on motor vehicle ownership base on demonstrated competence? Added to that, in many countries including Jamaica many of the drivers can’t drive properly and many can’t read because they obtained their drivers licence fradulently. Many of the personnel associated with the acquisition of a drivers licence are corrupt. Some motorist, in Jamaica, never place not even one foot inside the Motor Vehicle Examination Depot where they have to demonstration mastery of the vehicle and respect for the road code before the licence is granted.

    To add to the problem in Jamaica and many other countries I am sure, the systme for evaluating the road worthiness/fitness of the vehicle is corrupt. Many “respectable” people never place one inside the Examinatoin Depot instead they bribe the examiners or pay a third party who inturn bribe the examiner. The end result is many un-road worthy vehilce on the road. Many of the vehilces also done have proper tyres or brakes which is a main contribution to vehicular colision.

    Then finally, the last line of defence is also corrupted- the police are also corrupt. In Jamaica, they routine demand and/or accept bribes. The perpetrators are therefore allowed to roam freely instead of being behind bars.

    The solution to the problem is for the road laws to be enforced by the police as long as their are corrupt cops road dead will continue to increase. Many of the drivers have no respect for people they are what we in Jamaica call “Butu”, lower class (mentally). Some are also insane and many are full of anger and frustration. They are like gasoline bombs waiting to be ignited.

    If they don’t voluntarily change their bad behaviour/conduct and start treating their fellowmen with respect then the full force of law and order must brought to bear. For too long we have allowed the “tail to wag the dog” its time to let reckless drivers know who is in charge, that is, the decent lawabiding users of the road both drivers and pedestrians.

    All the very best on campaign Ros, I this is a very difficult assignment you have undertaken.
    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  6. March 11, 2008 at 14:15

    All accidents occur as a result of lack of control. Where state agencies charged with the prevention of road accidents refuse to apply the necceassary controlling mechanisms to prevent them, they do occur in numbers with multiples of injuries and death.

    For example, because the Vehicle Examination and Licencing Division (VELD)do not ensure that only qualified drivers with the aptitude and skill to drive are licensed, nor see to it that only roadworthy vehicles are licensed to operate on our highways we have accidents occuring frequently.

    Similarly, because our Motor Traffic Unit(MTTU)do not honestly inspect the genuiness of licences of drivers, and the roadworthiness of our vehicles, we have drivers without the knowledge and skill plying our roads with accidentworthy cars causing mayhem on our roads.

    Ben Assopiah
    Tarkwa, Ghana

  7. March 11, 2008 at 14:15

    though both are affected,let me specify this to developing countries where people use second hand cars that not reconditioned and because they want to jump over the poverty line,they end up using scrap which some times loose control.more so many people in Africa take alot of alcohol without control,even acamel stops taking in water when it realises its the bliss point.so police have to be very concious on these people and cameras as an option for these countries.To the entire world,if we all cultivated love for ourselves,then loving the otner person would be our responsibility.what i mean here is;treasure your life and for others too bye not over speeding or over taking and being conscious of the pedestrians and those u are taking control of in yo car.

  8. 8 Ros Atkins
    March 11, 2008 at 14:23

    Hi Ros,

    The last line of your email about cars being the killers we tolerate says it all, “Life can’t be risk free”. Governments, and other organisations in most of the world are indeed trying to make life risk free. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where there are no risks? Absolutely impossible, that’s how! There are so many laws, rules and regulations these days trying to minimise risks, but after all, who is responsible for MY life? Is it me, or is it the Government/school/whatever organisation is limiting my activities in the name of cutting down risks to ME? It’s time humanity grew up and began taking responsibility for its own life.

    Chris in Namibia.

  9. 9 Will Rhodes
    March 11, 2008 at 14:26

    Cars don’t kill people the driver does.

    As your lead story points out – it is a world wide problem. Here in Canada we have just had some of the worst storms for years, yet many people would drive as if the roads were clear, was that the car’s fault?

    In the UK do you know how hard it is to get the local council to put in speed bumps? If you don’t I would find out. Find out the truth from local people and not the local councillors – Kirklees for one.

    17 is too young for people to be allowed a car with an engine size above 1L – that would be a start. Part of the road test should be both night driving and motorway driving. But as has been said above – if the driver is the cause of a death of a person through reckless driving I believe that that person should have to be retrained before being able to take a car on the road again – at their own cost.

    One thing that I do wish people would really get into their head, TIME!

    Give yourself time to get from A to B. This can be taught before the test process even starts. Getting a driving licence is a big achievement in a persons life. How people get them should change, with a lot of education while learning to drive.

    Taxing the problem will do nothing as is already proven – people still drive with petrol at $2.10 a litre – which is unbelievable!

  10. 10 Ros Atkins
    March 11, 2008 at 14:39

    Are cars the killers we tolerate? Poor drivers are the killers we tolerate. Scott in the States

  11. March 11, 2008 at 14:40

    The car is probably the most inefficient overpriced idiotic piece of machinery you will ever hope to see, and is ‘passively’ killing many more people, flora and fauna on this planet than anything else I can think of right now, and that’s just by turning on the engine.
    However, it seems insane to let people, many whom you would be hard put to trust with a dustpan and brush, to propel one ton of heavy metal in public.
    A couple of very simple rules could be implemented that would prevent many, if not most ‘accidents’.
    One would be a driving test on a far more regular basis than is now in place. The next time I will have to take a test will be when I am of pensionable age. Which is completely ridiculous. People who wish to drive should be tested every year. It only takes an hour or so of your time, even my very first driving test was over in an hour allowing me to play ‘Toad of Toad Hall’ for the next 40 years.
    It has been repeatedly shown that people’s driving skills do Not improve with time, they get get worse. People get sloppy, they acquire bad habits, they become arrogant, they think they know and they know not.
    Regular testing would go a long way to avoiding this.
    The other would be Zero Toleration on any kind of drug, be it alcohol, cannabis or whatever, but especially alcohol.

    Any level of alcohol or even recreational drug in the bloodstream of a driver, even if left over from ‘the night before’ should result in a Lifelong Ban, and an international one at that.
    It the authorities can pass our personal information at round at will in the name of Terrorism, then obviously we have the technology.
    Further, rather than waiting until the horse has bolted, police should have the right to make random checks on drivers, whether acting suspiciously or not.

    A ban for life and nothing else. No fine, no Points Off, say sorry all you want.
    Just Off the Road mate! That way we Know It Won’t Happen Again!
    You have shown yourself to be completely irresponsible.
    You should not ever again be allowed to drive again.
    The rest we can leave in the hands of the very able (at getting money off you) insurance companies and lawyers.

    (and once banned for drunk driving btw. and got off very lightly IMHO)

  12. 12 Andrew Stamford
    March 11, 2008 at 14:40

    In a word… NO. Cars are a tool and one that is much misused. But to blame cars totally misses the point about road trauma. The question should be more like, “Is bad driver behaviour the killer we tolerate?”

    It is something that has baffled me, but something that has been close to my heart for a long time. I first began working in traffic engineering and it still amazes me how people want to blame all other elements in the road toll debate other than the principal cause, which is the person behind the wheel. Humanity has this capacity for denial and in Australia (Melbourne specifically) there has been some heavy debate over highly publicised road collisions. The first thing we need to do is clarify this point and stop referring to motor vehicle collisions as accidents. It is highly misleading and only serves to deflect blame for any incident that occurs on the road. It is almost a matter of principle that either the environment, roads, government, the vehicle or any number of other excuses that are brought up when a serious collision occurs.

    The fundamental fact remains that despite advances in car technology, road laws, policing and improvements to road environments the main cause, if not total cause, of motoring incidents occurs because of the driver and their lack of control of their vehicle. How often we see people get into vehicles only to begin mobile phone conversations, how many are distracted by other things such as eating, drinking, reading, writing – I recently witnessed a woman knitting – impaired by drugs or alcohol, applying make-up, deep in conversation with passengers or simply frustrated by something that happened to them a moment before? They then get into the comfortable confines of their vehicle and feel themselves invulnerable to both potential injury and the laws of physics. Moving 1+ tonne of metal on average about 20 m/s whilst distracted or impaired cannot result in a happy ending.

    People allow themselves to become deadly missiles, but do not accept the responsibility of their actions or the threat they pose to other road users and innocent bystanders when they drive. I had attended many “accident” scenes in my work and come across others since then and the significance of this is often lost on those who witnessed the event. I always leave such scenes with the words, “Do you see what happens when you do not pay attention and drive recklessly”. It is never met with anything other than contempt. By way of example I was once called out to a school where parents had been complaining of the traffic problem. The day I was there I witnessed one woman pick up her child and floored it as she left. I knew what was coming and not 30m down the road she drove directly into another child, seriously injuring him. Other parents were none to impressed when asking who I was and why I was ordering everyone about as I went to the aid of the child and told them I was from the road authority there to see what the traffic problem was and had the nerve to tell them directly that THEY were the problem. It was not some crazed petrol head from another area who had just mown down this child, but a fellow parent, who once having collected their child, had no regard for their classmate and zoomed off down the road. It was my fault for some reason.

    The first excuse is that there were never enough signs, but how many signs can you plaster about the roads and who pays attention to them. Who stops at stop signs anymore? Here we have a large problem about collisions with trains at level crossings. Other than having a policeman sitting next to you (and yes I attended a scene where an impatient policeman in a marked vehicle ignored bells and lights (and signs) and drove across a crossing only to be killed by the train that he knew was coming. If the police themselves cannot be expected to respect the road rules and the signage then what hope for other drivers.

    In fact it seems to me that people must assume some unseen force descends from the skies to cause these problems. It is they and they alone who create this swathe of destruction on our roads, yet will not be told that they contribute to the problem. I just do not understand the mindset of people who on the one will complain about the road toll and about the idiots on the road who drive recklessly endangering others, yet will get into their own vehicles and drive the same way. How can you protest against drunk or speeding motorists, then run a red light, put the foot down a bit more to get there that bit sooner or chat away on your phone when you should be paying attention. I can look myself in the mirror and state categorically that I have never done this, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t at least set a silent example, but I drive to keep myself alive and ensure I do not create problems for others. It is not that difficult to do, but it comes down to attitude – laziness and predominantly selfishness.

    Road safety is entirely in their control. If road conditions are bad, then adjust your driving and drive accordingly, drive within your skill level and drive within the constraints of the road you are on. Do not blame others, what you do when you get behind the wheel has life and death repercussions. And the selfish, belligerent attitude of motorists is not improving. Moreover, despite having created the problem it is then the responsibility of someone else to fix that problem. Never those driving and that is the stumbling block, someone else must do something. The government typically is not doing enough to make the roads safer. I mean really, if you simply cannot take responsibility for you own driving behaviour, then you do not belong on the roads in the first place. Those who show themselves incapable of respecting the roads, the law and other road users should be taken off the roads. This approach is the only effective method of dealing with irresponsible drivers. For someone to be repeatedly convicted of drink driving say, do you consider they have a right to maintain their licence? When do you think that driver should be banned from driving, after 2 convictions, 10, 20 or when they kill someone after driving drunk? Driving is certainly not a right and if you show no concern for anyone then in a modern society it should say enough is enough.

    If motorists drove within the rules that are provided for them then I am certain there would be a near zero road toll, but of course this is a pipe dream and one which I will not see occur anytime soon, or within my lifetime.

  13. March 11, 2008 at 14:50

    There is no control in America about construction of vehicles. They do not account for pedestrian damage and are killers on their way to kill. Articulated trucks routinely travel at 70- 80 miles per hour in the rain on the Interstate and seem to travel in blocks like geese to get max speed and cannot stop in hundreds of yards. When I have commented on the fact that in the UK the trucks are restricted in speed I am told that foods etc would be more expensive. They are already too fat but need things to be cheaper. Go Figure?

  14. 14 Dolapo Aina
    March 11, 2008 at 15:08

    The problem isn’t about cars or instruments it is about the human beings take make use of them. In Nigeria, cars accidents and its death toll is quite staggering. In fact reckless drivers usually drive to their deaths. There is little any government can do about it than to sensitize the populace and also put stringent punishments.
    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  15. 15 Anthony
    March 11, 2008 at 15:09

    There is nothing worse than driving next to a woman in a smashed up sedan, doing her make up while talking on the phone. People like this kill. If you are drunk and kill in a car its manslaughter, but if you were putting on make up or eating a burrito its an accident.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  16. 16 carlos King
    March 11, 2008 at 15:18

    Hi Ros,

    Thanks you Andrew Stamford for sharing your vast store of knowledge, wisdom and understanding with WHYS readers on how to prevent motor vehicle collision. I agree with your sentiments 1000%, the main contributor to road collisions are in fact reckless motorist.

    Ros, please invite Andrew Stamford, on the programme today. Many of WHYS/BBC listeners desperate need to hear from this kind and compassionate soul. The world needs to heard from Andrew Stamford.

    Carlos, Kingston- Jamaica.

  17. March 11, 2008 at 15:22

    When you realize, despite what most might think, that the government makes rules on the “Vulcan Principle” and that is the way it must be. That is to say “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” However the groups and people who promote the “If I could just save one life” mentality find sentimental stature in our society. So, from a stepped back overview of our culture, we are internally tormented.

    The car is the source of the torment and a weird fit, especially in the US economy. The indirect benefits of having a mobile society are immensely more beneficial then the negative cost of life. The benefit of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of happiness given by personal transportation and a well defined roadway system is unequaled. But, when some small child gets killed by a drunk driver or a speeder, that generates more and immediate policy changes. We don’t see that a reduced standard to achieve a driving permit leads to less responsible and less intelligent people driving. However, it also leads to many millions of more drivers. Drivers who buy cars, Gas, shop, and generate trillions of dollars in economic flow. That ease of cash flow has been what has lead the US to become the strongest economy in the world.

    Oddly enough, we all speed, yet there are speeding laws. 80% of people who drink alcohol, admit to having a few drinks too many and then getting behind the wheel. Yet we have DUI laws. No other facet of our legal policies do we make laws that we know the majority of the citizenry is going to violate. That is just plain “weird”.

  18. March 11, 2008 at 15:34

    Use public transportation and leave the driving to professionals.

  19. 19 Ros Atkins
    March 11, 2008 at 15:40

    Dear Ros:

    It’s interesting that you chose this subject today. Only yesterday in my local newspaper there was an article that my state legislature in Iowa has proposed imposing more restrictions on teenage drivers in our state.

    If enacted the law will require that teenage drivers in the first six months of their first licensing period (at age 16) can not have any passengers in their car unless it is a family member. The law has been contested largely by the teenagers it directly impacts as political hypocrisy because several of our state legislators ran on the platform of trying to be environmentally friendly through reducing emissions levels yet this law would effectively prohibit teenagers from car pooling to school.

    Issues like this are ever present in our state as we see lots of bad winter weather that is difficult for younger inexperienced drivers to endure. In 1998 my state enacted a graduated licensing system that states that from the time of the first issue of their license, teenagers have an intermediate license that prohibits them driving after 12 midnight and before 6 am, it also limits the number of passengers in the car to only the amount of seat belts available. If teenagers can go twelve consecutive months without a traffic violation only then can they get their permanent driver’s license. If they are unable to go twelve months and get a speeding citation or get in an accident then the twelve month period must start over.

    I will be tuning in to the show today and am looking forward to hearing it. Have a wonderful afternoon.

    Iowa (US)

    Hope to hear back from you soon!

  20. 20 Ros Atkins
    March 11, 2008 at 15:40

    If we r willing to enjoy the freedom and convenience cars give us, then we must accept the dangers they come with. The merits of having cars in our world today far outweighs the demerits. We simply have to be more careful with them. Kwabena in Ghana

  21. 21 Jens
    March 11, 2008 at 15:49

    The entire issue lies with driver education and the realization that one is not isolated inside one’s tin box.

    I am regularly shocked how people manage to drink coffe, handel a cell phone and change the radio station all at the same time as they are doing 70 mph.

    Add in the aggresssion that accumulates while standing in a traffic jam you will end up with a leathal mix of frustration and incompetence.

    I used to live in london for many years and i was stunned at how aggressive people become inside their cars, but trust me after several years i recoginsed the same traits in my behaviour. The key is that some people recoginse such behaviour, while others act out upon it. The consequence is aggresive and dangerouse driving.

    one of the best things each driver should haveto do is use a bicycle or motorcyle for 6 months prior to being allowed to drive. one will learn and appriciate the “nakedness” of being exposed to cars. I had several accidents on bicicles and motorcycles all of which were cause by car drivers and their negligence of observrving eaven the most fundamental traffic rules, like a red light means stop, do not over take a bike and then apruptly turn left, wipping the rider out. look back and set the indicator before you over take. I ride sports bikes with high beam on during day and load pipes, but obviously the cell phone and ipod brigade does not care.

    the solution is simple “drive your car etc the way, as if every pedestrian is a person dear to your life.”

    Jens, Cedar Crest, USA

  22. 22 Will Rhodes
    March 11, 2008 at 15:53

    Just another reply because it indicated the attitude in Europe and North America.

    I just watched a program about motoring, much like Top Gear though neither as funny or informative.

    They were reviewing the ‘New’ Saturn Astra (Vauxhall) – while making their comments they did complain that there wouldn’t be room for more cup holders:- “As we know, Europeans stop to drink their coffee but we in North America like to drink on the go”.

    That says so much about this topic.

  23. 23 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 11, 2008 at 15:58

    At least two motorbike accidents are recorded everyday in one town of Cameroon.
    Inexperienced drivers and no security measures are the main causes of these preventable accidents

  24. 24 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 11, 2008 at 16:05

    Safety measures like compulsory seat belts, speeding restrictions, better roads and vehicle designs can have dramatic results. Flesh, metal and speed can be a fatal combination mixed with incompetence, naivety or alcohol. Deaths caused by dangerous driving are every bit as tragic and criminal as murder, but the law often fails to reflect this.

  25. 25 Jens
    March 11, 2008 at 16:22


    i dare to say that the better the safety meassurments the more idiotic the drivers become. heck, i have 4WD and i am invincible, my ABS let’s me stop on a dime, my traction control let’s me put power down in the most dangerouse places, the airbag will deply etc etc.

    trust me if people had a metal spike shoot out of the stering wheel instead of an airbag, they would drive a lot mor controlled.

    regarding alcohol, all i can say is that i live in the state with the highest drunk driving incident in the usa. i saw folks drive up to the gas station, throw their bottle of JD in the trash, get a new one, open it and take a swig….that was at 8 am.

  26. 26 steve
    March 11, 2008 at 16:34

    Where on God’s earth can you buy whiskey at a gas station in the US? The only place I’ve ever seen that is in Germany! I remember when I was in high school and they would have assemblies to talk about the horrors of drunk driving, and this one cop spoke about how he got hit by a drunk driver and was hospitalized. Apparently the guy that hit him would drink a 12 pack of beer on the way to work. I don’t know how his coworkers didn’t ever notice given he must have smelled like a brewery every single day..

  27. 27 Will Rhodes
    March 11, 2008 at 16:38

    “trust me if people had a metal spike shoot out of the stering wheel instead of an airbag, they would drive a lot mor controlled.”

    You haven’t been watching Jeremy Clarkson have you? He advocated the exact same thing. LOL

  28. March 11, 2008 at 16:53

    The right to drive should not be dependent the age in which a person can drive, but how well the person understands what getting behind the wheel of a car or motorcycle means. The way to accomplish this is by focusing on comprehensive, real world driving lessons (for no less that five years) and less on booklet testing.

  29. 29 Arnaud ntirenganya Emmanuel
    March 11, 2008 at 16:59

    Hi Jens,
    many thanks for the reply, therefore we all acknowledge that cars aren’t the killers but we drivers since we decide to ignore the safety measures and drink while driving.

  30. 30 Brent
    March 11, 2008 at 17:10

    As an American, I don’t want to be micro-managed. I feel the same way about governors limiting my speed as I do about being told I have to wear a seatbelt. Every individual must accept the risk while driving amongst the population, this is why we are taught to drive defensively here in the States.

  31. 31 Evan
    March 11, 2008 at 17:14

    Ok, this has got to be the most innane question I have ever heard.
    Cars are not the killers we tolerate, bad drivers are the killers we tolerate.
    If driving laws were much much stricter, and people weren’t so stupid sometimes than maybe less people would die.
    Think about it… Driving is a dangerous task which too many see as a right (at least in the western world).
    Maybe, just maybe its one of the few occasions where natural selection will still work. Sadly too many innocent pedestrians do die from bad drivers… or stupid pedestrians… it all depends on the situation.

    If driving laws and pre-requisites were more strict than the problem would abate.
    Satirically speaking, All cars should be blindingly fast, lack seatbelts airbags and crumple zones, force the driver to perform reflex tests and IQ tests before operation, as well as common sense tests. A driver should be absolutely terrified when driving, but at the same time, absolutley capable and impeccable at driving.

    Why in gods name do we cater to the lowest common denominator, than ask why they got in accidents?

  32. 32 Bryan
    March 11, 2008 at 17:16

    As a cyclist this topic is close to my heart. I put my life into the hands of drivers every day and, to be honest, I don’t trust them with it. Reducing car usage and vehicle miles traveled is a lofty goal that I heartily support, and reducing road deaths is just one of many potential benefits.

    Portland, Oregon

  33. 33 Brodie
    March 11, 2008 at 17:18

    I would like to point out to your pretentious guest that bicycles are not only for those who are forced to ride them because they are poor. There are many, thousands in my city alone, who ride every day because we hate the environmental aspects of cars, which is at least as dangerous as their immediate physical threat. I wont, however, deny that threat: I was recently hit by an SUV while riding my bike, and will be getting surgery soon to correct the damage inflicted by his inattentiveness. The answer to making cars less dangerous is to get less of them on the road.


  34. 34 Jamie
    March 11, 2008 at 17:21

    Jamie by email

    Maybe it is unrealistic, but I think we need to get rid of cars all together and use light rail, small (slow) electric vehicles and bikes.
    Besides the fatalities linked directly to cars, what about all the health problems from smog, pollution from auto factories, deaths due to wars for oil… at the least a standard vehicle design would help instead of the personalized vehicle marketing scheme that has been going on since the beginning.

  35. 35 Jens
    March 11, 2008 at 17:23


    I have been watching Jeremy on and off, but this one was grown on my own “compost heap”. I only recently got BBC America….Seriously, I think driving has gotten progressivly worse the more safty features a car has. I am a volunteer ski patroler and trust me the amount of 4WD cars getting stuck in the snow because the driver thinks he is invincible is beyond a joke. PLUS, i watch the folks on the slopes and the better the equipment gets the more horrendeouse the accidents. i mean a helmet with a little styrofoam packaging is nothing compared to a tree at speeds of 30 plus mph.

    Yeah Arnaud,

    You are right cars are not killers, it’s the fools that think they are much better drivers than they are. we have even specialists that roll joints while driving on a highway. how wrong on how many levels can this be?

  36. 36 Rabiya Limbada
    March 11, 2008 at 17:25

    As a commuter in the Washington, DC area, I have a few comments.First, if the problem is speed, why are cars made that go up to hundred miles per hour? Cars should not go faster than the speed limit. Also, I think the drinking age, voting age, and driving age should all be twenty one. Young drivers should be taken off the road and required to take drivers education.Also, we need to invest in public transportation in rural area so that people will be able to commute.if we really want to take a momentous step, raise the price of gas. This will also reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

  37. 37 Eric via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:28

    cars do not kill people bad drivers kill people.

  38. 38 Anthony Dauterive
    March 11, 2008 at 17:30

    I believe that this is form of evolution of the human. As we evolve we come up with ways to increase our ability to move throughout our world. And the people who can’t control this ability usually end up not paying attention to conditions at which they are traveling and end up having accidents. These people fall into the realm of natural selection and only the ones that can control this ability survive.

  39. 39 Jamie in Hawaii via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:31

    Maybe it is unrealistic, but I think we need to get rid of cars all together and use light rail, small (slow) electric vehicles and bikes.
    Besides the fatalities linked directly to cars, what about all the health problems from smog, pollution from auto factories, deaths due to wars for oil… at the least a standard vehicle design would help instead of the personalized vehicle marketing scheme that has been going on since the beginning.

  40. 40 Charles via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:32

    The car kills people, divides society, separates populations and pollutes the Earth. If you think about how much of our cities are pavement- You start to realize how costly cars can be.


  41. 41 Art via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:34

    Urban/suburban travel consists of 4 basic modes: cars/trucks, walking, mass transit and bicycling. No matter how roads are funded, gas taxes etc, roads that are designed only to accommodate cars present a severe “impediment” to the function of the other modes of travel. This is a “constitutional inequity”.

    The safest cars are electric-propulsion plug-in hybrids. Also, they best affect land-use and development patterns that benefit the other modes of travel. The plug-in hybrid gives the owner the option of driving or running household appliances.

    Art in Oregon

  42. March 11, 2008 at 17:38

    Daniel, While your statement is 100% accurate, it highlights the problem that emerges whenever this discussion crops up.

    What do you do about the people who already have the license, jobs, and a car or two? Also, anytime you add restrictions, you slow the system down and what about the people who don’t get a drivers license due to the new restrictions? In this country you are severely crippling that persons ability to get a decent job with a decent standard of living with out an automobile. Look at all the money generated directly because of personal transportation travel. Purchases of the auto itself, insurance, gas, car washes, alarm systems, radios, DOT contractors, Taco Bell @ 3:30 am, tires, breaks, auto mechanics, and of course the drive thru booze shop. Police in small towns wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for speeders and DUI’s.

    The point is this, if you limit or hinder such a huge source of cash flow, you hinder the economy. Then instead of the little kid killed by a speeder, he starves to death because daddy can’t find a job. Or more then likely is forced to eat cheap fast food for his childhood, ends up obese, and dies of congestive heart failure by the time he is 35. I would rather go out quicker.

  43. 43 Bentley Hall
    March 11, 2008 at 17:40

    In America it is far too easy to get a drivers license. In Europe it is a long learning process as well as being expensive. Thus Americans often have poor diving skills. All the safety equipment in the world will not fix the bad drivers we have. Now cars are going to kill us economically as well.

    Ben – Portland Or. USA

  44. 44 Cara via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:41

    ros aren’t you contributing to driver distraction by asking people to what they think if they are listening to the show while driving?

    cara, washington, DC

  45. 45 steve
    March 11, 2008 at 17:41

    Thing is Brent, is that if everyone felt the way you do, not caring how your actions impacted others, even more people would get injured or killed. Remember, your rights end where mine begin. If you want to drive 100 mph and weave in and out of traffic, not wearing a seatbelt, if you were on your own property, fine. But if you’re on a busy city street, your actions put everyone else at risk. Even if you get ejected from your car if you don’t wear a seatbelt, you can damage someone else’s property or injure someone if you land on them.

    And now that cars have airbags, if you don’t wear a seatbelt when an airbag deploys, well, you’ll have your face rearranged presuming you survive. More power to you if you want that, but why make the other people paying premiums to your insurance company pay for your decision?

  46. 46 S. Ann Lutzky
    March 11, 2008 at 17:43

    To truly prevent accidents of cars through education, would mean, I believe, to educate people not about driving, but in taming human emotions/self-centeredness (as is done in meditation-based traditions.) Several years ago I read of a study that I have never forgotten – that more accidents were caused by people who had just had an emotional argument than by drunk drivers. One reason I didn’t forget this research was that the very day after I read about it my teenage son’s best friend had an argument with his girlfriend, left his house in his car, ran a red light, and had a car accident. Since this emotional factor is a primary factor, until more people develop towards motivation of working on transforming their minds, I do believe doing something about speed limitation would be important

  47. 47 brett
    March 11, 2008 at 17:43

    As an American, I want to be able to move around safely, and have choices — not just cars — about how I do that, and if “micro managing” (i.e. real speed limits through governors) will save lives, let’s try them. It’s outrageous that almost 50,000 americans die on the roads each year.

    But the real problem isn’t cars as much as transportation choices. Blame real estate developers and all the others who profit from suburban sprawl (especially after WWII and the interstate highway system in the US). They and the highway lobby, the oil companies and the Republicans who have cut subsidies for public transportation while massively subsidizing highways and the auto industry have forced millions of Americans into cars because they have no other choices.
    Here in Portland, we’re taking baby steps to reduce auto dependence by curbing suburban sprawl through urban growth boundaries (which makes it possible to walk or bike rather than drive most places), investing in light rail and streetcars and bike lanes and other alternative means of transportation. As a result we have many more people than other US cities commuting by bike and public transit, and living car-free.
    We need to emulate cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen that reduce car dependence by taxing gasoline and commuting more, and using that money to build infrastructure that gives people choices in transportation. The world has no choice — there’s so little “freedom” in a car dependent culture because so many millions of people are sitting in gridlock, and gas and highway construction costs are nearing unsustainable levels.

  48. 48 Michael via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:48

    I have always found it incredible that we are able to drive vehicles which such high maximum speeds and acceleration. But as with everything else, money is more important than peoples’ lives.

    Portland, Oregon

  49. March 11, 2008 at 17:49

    Distracted drivers are a huge issue as well. Eliminate drive-thru services and make cell phones inoperative when car engines are running.

  50. 50 Elena via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:49

    I lived and studied in Quito, Ecuador last fall. Once I arrived the first new word we learned at orientation was, “atropellarse” meaning to be run over. Large blue hearts adorn the streets all over the city marking where fatal car accidents have occured. My professors told me that car accidents were the number one killer of young people in Ecuador, and every year at least a few of their own students are killed in car crashes. Despite the fact that Universidad SanFransisco de Quito was the most prestigious university in the country. Once I came back to the states, I had to re-learn that it was not nessasary to cross the street at a full sprint. Ecuadorians don’t slow down for pedestrians, they speed up. I think this is a common phenomenon across all of Latin America.

    Portland, OR

  51. 51 Morry via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:50

    Things would be much improved if those who drive cars are taught that, when they sit behind the wheel, their first and most important responsibility is to operate the car safely.

    It is not their primary responsibility, as they sit behind the wheel, to get to their destination; that is a secondary responsibility. (It is certainly the primary GOAL to get to your destination, but only a secondary RESPONSIBILITY. The logic here is that if you fail at the driving, you will never reach your goal.)

    Next, all other possible activities as one sits behind the wheel are tertiary activities. Examples: Eating, drinking coffee, talking on the cell phone, listening to the radio, talking with passengers, and any other activities other than keeping one’s attention on the road. These are tertiary because you can do all of them before one gets behind the wheel; or by pulling off the road and stepping out of the car for a moment.

    How can this (making drivers aware that their PRIMARY responsibility is to operate the vehicle) be addressed?
    By making it illegal to be distracted while driving.

    Some will insist that this is infringement of freedom of the individual by government. However, the people create and support a government for the purpose of protecting the public at large. In this instance, the public at large is being harmed by vehicles operated improperly; it is a danger which is certainly within the purview of government and must be addressed by government.

    Already some States in the US have initiated laws which make it an offence to be distracted while driving.
    It’s exactly the same issue as driving while intoxicated, an offence which is enforced by government and supported by the public.


  52. 52 Tom via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:52

    I’m sorry, but this is another example of placing the blame in the wrong place. The reason there are so many deaths in many developing countries due to automobile accidents relative to the rest of the world is a result of complex cultural factors. If I stand at a street corner in Portland, OR, the pedestrians stand single file waiting patiently for the walk signal. If I do the same thing India, people shove, cut, and push, sometimes knocking fellow pedestrians into traffic, to get to the front and then dash across the street at the first chance dodging wildly driven cars. Yet…what do we do? We blame the car. We will never be able to solve any problem if we take this approach of just saying “it’s the cars fault”.

    Oregon, USA

  53. 53 Chris via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:53

    Cars are like guns. By themselves, they are not dangerous. It’s improper care and handling that make these tools dangerous. Are we going to create laws that restrict stoves because children can burn themselves on them? Are we going to restrict the sale of bleach because someone could drink it and kill themselves? Car manufacturers are not to blame. Politicians are not to blame. Let’s stop trying to blame everyone and get to the root of the matter. The person operating the vehicle poorly is to blame for deaths and should be held accountable and not all of society.

    San Francisco, CA

  54. 54 Fred Greatorex
    March 11, 2008 at 17:54

    Bad Drivers kill people, drivers who talk on their cell phones, put on make up or distract themselves for any reason are bad drivers.

    I would argue Brent’s point that everybody needs to accept risk, If I choose to walk or ride a bicycle, why do I have to “choose” the same level as risk as someone driving a car?

    I think the problem stems from two sources:
    One: Too many people on the road.
    Two: People are not willing to accept responsibility.

    The solutions:
    – Enforce the laws
    – Punish for the results (like death caused by motorists) not the “cause” (Drunk Driving, applying make up, chatting on the cell phone).

    Fred in Portland.

  55. 55 steve
    March 11, 2008 at 17:56

    Brett: You know that could never work in the US. That would mean that white collar workers from the suburbs would have to move closer to the city, or into the city, and give up their McMansions. Presuming they would willingly do that, it would raise property values in the cities, and drive poorer people out, and then there would be screams of gentrification and racism by those who cannot afford it and leave the city for the suburbs. This is happening in Washington, DC. The black community is up in arms now that the city might lose it’s black majority status within the next 15 or so years.

  56. 56 Michael OR USA
    March 11, 2008 at 17:58

    Drivers are not the problem. Cars are. No matter the sped limit or the quality of the drivers people will die.

    Death rates increase dramatically the higher the speed. There fore we have speed limits. But we have decided that those numbers are ok.

    25 mph residencial areas
    45 mph main city arteries
    55 mph congested highways
    70 mph open highways

    People are killed in all of these speed limits. At 25 mph a child can run out from behind a car and be killed. In our city there are “white” bycycles where cyclist was killed on the street (45 mph).

    Only way to stop all vehivcle deaths? NO VEHICLES! Right

    Three years ago my nephew was killed on a freeway driving alone. None of our family have stopped driving because of it. We are tending to pay closer attention, yet an accident could still happen.

    Sasfety training would reduce deaths but not stop them.

  57. 57 Ralph via email
    March 11, 2008 at 17:58

    Roadways for cars unlike trains share their right-of-way with many other forms of transport for example: bicycle, pedestrian, and skaters. So the common roadway is in itself a danger. If you want to arrive safe you need to wrap yourself in a motorized steel capsule to get there. This is a problem. What is lacking is real development and integration of safe infrastructure for the non-motorized vehicles (bikes, skates, etc.) and pedestrian traffic from mass transport systems. We need a more robust system between the store-front sidewalk and the highway system. As our social footprint expands with urban sprawl and big box retail I seldom see thought going into isolating bikers or walkers from hurried and distracted automobile pilots.

    On superhighway, the concept is as much about flow as it is about speed. If you are blocking the passing lane – please move over. If you are stuck in the slow lane behind a truck, You should signal and drivers in the next lane should let you in – Let’s have our police enforce flow as stop ambushing people on the highway for expedience

  58. 58 Cal Bend, Oregon USA
    March 11, 2008 at 17:58

    This is a timely discussion for me. I was riding my bike to a meeting this morning (daylight) and was almost hit by a large SUV turning left across my lane. The woman driving the car was on her cell phone then was obvously irritated that she had to stop suddenly . People kill, cars are like guns.

  59. 59 Scott via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:06

    2-points, people lose track of how fast cars are, if you ride a bike you realize how fast say 30mph is. Also, cars can be made extremely safe if people want. They can go to any race shop and install a roll cage and harness seatbelts. Then they can wear a fireproof suit and a helmet just like a race driver. Inconvienient but VERY safe.

  60. 60 Dawn via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:07

    And how many people would die because you can not get them to the Emergency room or hospital? We have rules and regulations in place – what is missing is common sense – unfortunately that is a fact of life with the human race

    As long as we are all mortal there will be things out there that kill us whether it’s nature, technology or disease – no way around that one

  61. 61 Mike via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:07

    It was noted that speed does not cause the high death rate. I don’t believe this interpetation of statistics. According to the laws of physics kinetic energy increases faster with speed. And it’s the amount of kinetic energy that accounts for the severity of an accident.

    Federal law in the US requires that cars protect occupants up to 35 MPH. If cars were unable to go faster than 35, theoretically, few would be killed.

    The only way to prevent a car from going faster than 35 would be to forbid the manufacture of cars that have enough horsepower to go faster.

    And that would have other benefits as well.

    Mike of Oregon, USA

  62. 62 Jesse via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:08

    I am 22 and have had my drivers license since I was 17. I have never been in an accident, never been cited for a traffic law violation, and I now drive a maximum of 55 mph to conserve gasoline. I don’t think that breaking the speed limit is unsafe, but it is a good indicator of an unsafe driver. My friend, who has received three tickets for breaking the speed limit, has also been in three accidents, totaling two different cars. We need to deal with these people when they are only breaking the speed limit or not stopping for a stop sign, before they cause real harm.

    Jesse in Vancouver, Washington

  63. 63 Dedivia email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:08

    This is funny! It reminds me of the the two people who were talking about the way their fathers died. The first said his father was a sailor. He died at sea. The other second guy then asked him whether he was not afraid of going at sea. The second guy said his father died in bed due to old age. The first guy then asked whether he was not afraid of going to bed at night.

  64. 64 Matt via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:10

    In the United States we need to get children off the roads. I’m not talking about the ones playing, I referring to the ones driving. There are far too many pleasure driving teens. They are unfocused because they have nothing to loss. They don’t pay for their cars, they don’t pay for their insurance, and some don’t even pay for their gas. Cars are for getting places, cars aren’t a place to go.

    United States

  65. 65 Matt via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:14

    People who complain about car pollution forgot that before cars horses polluted the cities and towns. Try to research data about air quality in London and NYC when millions of horses were doing job #1 and #2 on the streets every day.
    There is one more aspect – what about the comers. Without roads, cars and trucks we all would live like in XIX century. Road accidents are the price we pay for development.

  66. 66 Samuel via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:14

    The real danger from cars and drivers comes from hesitation. Hesitation causes unpredictable behaviors for everyone else on the road to read. Humans automatically make billions of decisions based off of current time assumptions, and unpredictable behaviors makes the validity of our reactions no better than guessing games.

    If drivers just commit to a stupid decision while driving, everyone else can prepare and will know “uh oh! This person’s about to make a stupid decision.”

    I have also found that women are more hesitant drivers than men, and for all people hesitance on the road tends to grow with age. So removing young men will not make the roads safer, we have to remove the hesitance.

    ~Samuel from Oregon~

  67. 67 Kirk via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:17

    I have found that when traveling the world the countries that have fewer cars seem to have slimmer and healthier and happier people.
    Walking must pay off plus you don’t have to worry about dyeing in a car crash.
    Portland OR

  68. 68 Elasto via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:19

    corruption is the major challenge to road safety,traffic police are not performing their role but are after money and not safety.speed limits have to be put in place and this will reduce the rate of accidents.
    Elasto from Nairobi,Kenya

  69. 69 Kerich via email
    March 11, 2008 at 18:20

    this is kerich kipsang from kenya
    humanity is finally paying the price for carelessness with technology. in kenya, corruption plays a big role in causing accidents. overloading and overspeeding has led to alot of deaths.
    there should be a stop to selling used cars to africa because they become unroadworthy soon.

  70. 70 Anthony
    March 11, 2008 at 18:21

    Speed limits and bumps wouldn’t help that much. I think if you could down grade the amount of energy in the gas, so that the HP is cut in half for each car in the region, then people wont be able to make crazy turns, cut people off, and things like that.

    -Anthony, LA, CA.

  71. March 11, 2008 at 18:24

    There are way to many unqualified drivers on the roads. Such actions and arrogance that is witnessed every day attest to this.
    A car is a privilege not a right.
    The car pollutes. kills, and powering it causes wars.
    While it is impossible to ignore the necessity many, certainly in the west have placed on this source of transport, it is a global imperative to bring this mode of transport under control.
    We have a massive over reliance on the car
    By the way, i am 40 and do not own a car. However i rent one when i need it.

  72. 72 savane
    March 11, 2008 at 18:26

    Hi Ros. When I was learning to drive my mum told me ‘Always remember that every other road user is either a psycopath, a suicidal maniac or just plain arrogant and stupid! Sadly, she’s right!

    Cars are inanimate objects – people are the killers not the cars! This includes:
    Government and legislators who don’t pass the right laws regarding road development and maintenance, and road usage , and who speed dangerously because they are ‘VIPs’! Law enforcement agencies that don’t enforce laws, and are open to bribery! Drivers who flaunt traffic rules because they can get away with it, who bought their licences without proper learning. Pedestrians who don’t distinguish between the road and the roadside (if one was ever built). Vehicle owners who don’t maintain their vehicles and encourage their passengers to flaunt the law because they can get away with it!

    In Kenya, when speed governors, safety belts and passenger numbers were introduced, and the police enforced the laws, one sector of public transport went on strike because the owners felt the new law was discriminatory! What did we do? We walked and carpooled until the gave in. When alcohol testing was introduced, some bars whined that they were losing business! When the Minister of Transport was move in a cabinet reshuffle, the laws went out the window, and the new. Minister said he couldn’t enforce the laws because he owned some public sector vehicles!!! Ironically, a couple of surgeons I know, could now plan ahead for their weekends because the incidence of vehicle-related injuries as a result of collisions (I refuse to call them accidents because they can be avoided) went down. I don’t see them much these days – they’re busy again!!! People need to change their attitude and behaviour towards road safety!


  73. 73 F
    March 11, 2008 at 18:31

    I’d like to know how installing speed limiters in cars requires no enforcement. Who makes sure that the millions of cars in the world don’t have their limiters removed or disabled?

  74. 74 Anthony
    March 11, 2008 at 18:41

    There are more than 400,000 overweight deaths in the US per year, and 5,000 associated with fast food infections per year. Along with this there are millions hospitalized because of fast food/overweight. Forget the roads, lets take care of Americas fast food/overweight problem!

    -Anthony Estrada

  75. 75 steve
    March 11, 2008 at 18:46

    It’s rather ironic, but there was a woman in the neighborhood I grew up in that lobbied to get speed bumps put on the streets because she didn’t like cars going even the speed limit. She eventually go them put in after a while. She had a heart attack, and died on the way to the hospital because the ambulance had to drive very slowly over the speed bumps. They said she would have had a better chance of survival had the ambulance been able to drive its normal speed at the meeting after she died when the community decided to remove the speed bumps given that nobody had ever been hurt or killed due to speeding, but someone apparently died because of the reducing of the speed.

    March 11, 2008 at 18:49

    A Great Help Would B To Ban Drunk Drivas 4 Life,Ban Those Who Use Phones While Driving 4 5 Yrs & Make New Drivers To Visit Accident Victims B4 Being Given A Licence.Strict Enforcement And Education Is D Key To Reduce Fatalities.

  77. 77 gary
    March 11, 2008 at 18:51

    Hello All,
    All people have the right to travel. They do not have the right to get there in a car.
    Modern automobiles are high-powered living rooms, bed rooms, lounges, saloons, opium dens, or what ever unintended use to which the idiot behind the wheel puts them. They have been developed far beyond the simple requirements of safe transportation. The people who suggest differently are trying to sell you something – a car – in fact. The freedom of movement they provide is an illusion. They are an expense a wise society would instantly eliminate. Sadly, there is no chance of that happening on Earth. The last drop ever of gasoline will be burned by an idiot driving a three ton SUV twenty meters to fetch his mail.
    After WHYS goes off, I’ll need to go for a walk to try and forget I live in the country that made the stupid, bloody things a way of life.

  78. 78 Justin from Iowa
    March 11, 2008 at 18:52

    –“but after all, who is responsible for MY life? Is it me, or is it the Government/school/whatever organisation is limiting my activities in the name of cutting down risks to ME? It’s time humanity grew up and began taking responsibility for its own life.”

    –Chris in Namibia.

    Responding to quote of earlier comment from Chris.. What about the people that you choose to kill by ignoring risks? That is one of the great contradictions that democracies face, the freedom of personal choice and liberties pitted against the freedom and rights of others to life. When does your personal liberty infringe too far upon the continued lives of your fellow man? That is as much the reason for traffic laws and enforcement… not to ensure the safety of the person choosing to ignore them, he is allready a lost cause, but to ensure the safety of the people that that person shares the road with, whether they be fellow drivers, pedestrians, or what have you.

  79. 79 Anyii, Kampala, Uganda
    March 11, 2008 at 18:52

    In Uganda, untrained people easily get a driving licence, most drivers don’t service cars regularly, yet they enjoy speed, roads

  80. 80 Robert, Annapolis, MD, USA
    March 11, 2008 at 18:54

    The problem really lies with the lack of consequences that most drivers experience when the law is broken. The chances of getting a ticket are relatively low and the penalties of those tickets are very low. If you want to change people’s behavior then you must do it though the most universally accepted way, monetary penalties. If the government makes it extremely financially painful for people who break the speed limit then you will see a greater change in the average person’s driving habits than through adding any type of electronic regulator on their cars.

  81. 81 Uwlaka via text
    March 11, 2008 at 18:58

    The problem of car accidents in Nigeria is mainly that of Govt’s irresponsibity. Motor transport is about the only business which is left in the hands of hoodlums and touts and drug addicts in the name of Road transport unions. Nigeria’s case can be reduced by Govt intervention.
    UWALAKA VAL, Nigeria

  82. 82 Umar via text
    March 11, 2008 at 18:59

    Measures should be taken to the kids who ar given driving licence, i got mine when i was 16 & i ve killed a kid already due to incopitence.
    Umar frm Yola Nig.

  83. 83 Will Rhodes
    March 11, 2008 at 19:14


    It was a couple of years ago that Clarky came up with the statement about the spike – it was while Top Gear were doing a program about car safety and how to make it better. Mr Clarkson in his own imitable fashion came out with what seemed like a grotesque idea – but could you imagine how slow drivers would go if the thing was spring-loaded? The other presenters on the show cringed, but I believe he got an awful lot of support for the idea.

    I see completely where both you and him are going – cars that feel too safe could be making the problem worse, I agree.

  84. 84 Eileen in Ireland via email
    March 11, 2008 at 19:34

    Car speed capability should be limited.There are so many cars on the road that it is impossible to enforce traffic law due to lack of man power.

  85. 85 Cromartie via email
    March 11, 2008 at 19:39

    for your guest to say that the “poor” pedestrian is being killed by the “rich” in their suvs is infantile. During 8 years in law enforcement I have never seen a car or truck kill someone on its own. like gun deaths the fault lies with the individual responsible. Common sense motor vehicle laws, liscensing of drivers, and strict enforcement of laws will go far in reducing traffic deaths. Based on the comments of some of your guests I suspect they are on the socialist bandwagon.
    Cromartie in North Carolina

  86. 86 Jitan via email
    March 11, 2008 at 19:40

    The biggest lobbies are supported by the oil and car companies. If they couldn’t stop them in a first world state like California, we can only hope for the worst for everywhere else.
    Jitan in NY

  87. 87 Jens
    March 11, 2008 at 20:21

    the issue of public transport use is all nice an well, as long as you live in an agglomeration.

    however, i live outside a reasonable size town in the southwest. there is no bus stop within 10 miles of my home and i live on a pretty steep incline over 2000 ft hight difference between my home and work place. i need a car otherwise i am stuck on top of the mountain.

    yes we all take the risk of being sourrounded by cars and i guess this will not change very quickly, even if the oil price goes up and up.

  88. 88 Thomas Murray
    March 11, 2008 at 20:38

    It’s worse than you think.

    Rising gas prices in the states ($3.30/gal. ($.78/liter) in Louisville, over $4.00/gal. ($.95/liter) somewhere in California) has got auto critics here grousing that Americans aren’t readily willing to give up their SUVs or go back to driving manual transmissions to increase gas economy. Which is why US auto companies are failing against the Euro-Asian economy models.

    It’s a throwback to the philosophy that large cars are safer in a wreck because the soft bodies inside are protected by all that momentum. Which is why we Americans tend to drive boat-sized gas-guzzlers the size of Belgium. But the decline of the two-ton sedan saw the rise in the two-ton SUV, an irony because its high center of gravity precipitates its own unique way of killing its occupants: Rollovers.

    Once, on the I-15 from Las Vegas to L.A., I encountered 3 (count ’em, 3!) SUV accidents — most rollovers, that I could tell. The jam got so bad around the 3rd one (according to the radio) that I thought ‘to heck with it’ and pulled off to stay the night in Barstow.

    With tougher traffic laws and more ubiquitous safety features, we actually drive safer and are safer. The problem is there are so many of us now, and the roads haven’t improved. The joke is that you can’t make a left turn in Washington, DC. No. Really. You can’t make a left turn in Washington. You LITERALLY CAN’T MAKE A LEFT HAND TURN IN WASHINGTON! The traffic’s that bad! Though you could make the same case for the politics.

    And to add insult to injury, our mass transit system sucks. I couldn’t afford auto insurance, so I sold my car to make do, and use the bus. I walk everywhere now (and have reversed my build-up of thunder-thighs), but now I’m always late, and am at the mercy of the 90 minute wait for the X-urb metro.

    My sister? She likes her SUV for the safety it alleges for her 6-year-old. After telling her of the danger of driving it like a sportscar, she sighed and said she knew. To compensate, she drives a stick. She has the freedom to do that because she drives a foreign model.

    Tell that to Detroit.

    –Regards. Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  89. 89 A.R.Shams
    March 12, 2008 at 10:22

    Yes, cars are the killers we tolerate and we must do needful forthwith seriously and persistently for that to rescue human lives out of such cruel killings.

  90. 90 Ros Atkins
    March 12, 2008 at 11:03

    George Monbiot has got it quite wrong.The poor are very often the worst drivers because so many of them ,particularly in South Africa have “bought” their licences and drive hopelessly unroadworthy old vehicles since the standard of traffic policing is hopeless.The worst of all though , are the minibus taxis which are on average about 15 years old and generally horribly overloaded .When they are involved in an accident the death toll can approach or exceed 20.

    Eli Freeman
    Cape Town

  91. 91 Rufaa SHEIKH
    March 12, 2008 at 13:00

    I might be excused to describe road accident in Kenya as Carnage. Over-blown comnent,eh? Well, like it or not it is one of the greatest phobias of our time. Vehicle ownership seems an easy thing and Nairobi is a motoring mecca. We seem to enjoy the metallic madness that has concealed the roads in the city and other major towns. Perhaps, it could bring some benefits too. Motor tourism. I’m no joker. I know cars kill and we’ve forgoten it. The show wiill remind us of the carnage.

  92. 92 keith
    March 12, 2008 at 14:34

    Sadly, just a few days ago someone that I would consider a friend went the wrong way on a highway driving a big SUV. She slammed into a small car with 3 men on their way to work. She was able to walk away from the accident but the three men were killed instantly. I think, in this country (U.S.) the problem is so multifaceted but that all the facets come back to a certain kind of selfish individualism that we proudly consider to be “American.” We will not suffer to be told what to drive, so no matter how outlandishly big the average vehicle on the road is, and no matter the threat this may pose to more responsible and smaller cars…I remember being in Australia a few years ago and the only SUVs we saw were in the tropical northeast where the people who drove them clearly needed them for getting through rough terrain during inclement times of year. I remember being in L.A. a few years later and being absolutely amazed that on the clogged freeways that criss cross the whole county, there were millions of people, in all their vanity, commuting to work all alone in enormous Hummers, Jeeps, and other SUVs in the part of our country with the highest gas prices. But beyond that, people are just selfish much of the time and combining a whole race of people that want to do what they want to do when they want to do it (drinking excessively, driving way too fast, etc.) with machines that are capable of killing in an instant is going to be a deadly cocktail for the foreseeable future.

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