Cars and Posthumanism: Chapter 1

(Note to self: If you ever want to murder someone, use a car to do it.)

The driver who killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk in November 2006 in West Seattle was convicted of assault, with a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $5000 fine. An appeal is expected, because the city law under which he was charged allows a more severe sentence than the norm — the norm being essentially a slap on the wrist.

Tragedies like this — and they happen all the time — are SO revealing about how warped our attitudes are when it comes to cars. If there was a disease, or a food, or a behavior, or a machine, or any other anything that caused anywhere near the death and destruction that is consistently caused by cars, there would be a national uproar. We are a society that is hyper-aware of safety — except with cars. Even though getting into a car is by far the most dangerous thing that the average person does in their daily life.

Yes, we all get distracted from time to time when driving. It easily could have been me or you who killed that pedestrian. But that excuse is precisely the problem. We’re not taking responsibility for the deadly power we are wielding when we drive cars. We need our attitudes adjusted with better training, stricter laws, and better enforcement. We need to get over our bizarre cultural imbalance that some have called “carhead.”

The photo below is but one example of the lack of seriousness with which we take pedestrian safety. There are crosswalks with the paint eroded away like this all over the city. Yet we know that well marked crosswalks help drivers become more aware of pedestrians. Is paint really that expensive? Not as cheap as life, apparently.

This post is part of a series; see also Chapter 37.

7 Responses to “Cars and Posthumanism: Chapter 1”

  1. michael

    What may be bad could be a whole lot worse…
    check out this study on two Chinese cities where they are actually trying to discourage people from walking and biking as they accommodate the auto more and more
    http://www.tsc.berkeley.edu/newsletter/winter2007/asiatrafficsafety.html

  2. Phil McCrackin

    “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
    -Shirly Hufsdetler

    *It’s a shite dangerous world out there and while I know everyone would like to walk around on big puffy clouds, I don’t find this particular issue to be of any big societal concern. Why is there some utopian notion of going outside and being able to walk around without either running into something or something running into you. The irony in the above story is that I’ve been hit by cylcists on sidewalks more than I’ve been run over by a car. My guess is that this is true for most that read this blog. The real danger here is the idea that particular modes of transportation are the enemy because they have the potential to kill. Let’s not blame the whole and realize that the real problem here lies with each individual.

  3. dan bertolet

    McCrackin said: “My guess is that this is true for most that read this blog.”

    True enough. But that’s because the ones that were hit by cars are dead, and they can’t read blogs anymore.

  4. Phil McCrackin

    Actually, so say the statistics – according to the NTSB, last year pedestrian deaths as a result of vehicular negligance accounted for less than 1% of all vehicular related deaths. As opposed to over 80% of vehicular deaths caused by vehicle to vehicle collisions. The other roughly 18% had to do with folks driving off cliffs, hitting buildings, and, I assume, alien abduction while driving alone at night (this, it would seem, should call for further investigation and, perhaps, the real issue as it relates to people and their dad-burn cars).

  5. Anonymous

    free car quote…

    Excellent post. Keep it up!…

  6. Pamela Yang

    thallome accursedly turkophobe holdfastness loaghtan multiplepoinding operating oestrus
    SALETS
    http://www.mschloe.com/home/home.htm

  7. Cars And Posthumanism Chapter 13: The Loaded Pistol | hugeasscity

    [...] (This post is part of a series: see Chapters 1, 23, and 37) [...]

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