Why the US is More Car Dependent—and Car Accident Prone—than Europe
Six reasons why the US embraced driving more than Europe—and how this affects car accident injuries
The American love affair with the automobile is an important part of our culture. It is not just the larger distances involved in American commutes that make us drive more than our European neighbors—statistics have shown that 30 percent of all of our daily trips are shorter than one mile, yet Americans make 70 percent of their short trips by car, while Europeans make only 30 percent. Considering that a study by Progressive Insurance found that 50 percent of policy holders involved in car accidents were less than 5 miles from home, all this driving should not be taken lightly. Here are 6 factors that help explain why Americans drive so much more than Europeans.
Mass Motorization: Americans acquired cars earlier and faster than Europeans, primarily due to greater personal wealth. By the mid-1930s, there was one car for every two households in America, while car ownership in Europe was still restricted mainly to the upper crust.
Road Standards: With cars being more popular here, government entities and city planners were quicker to adapt to the needs of urban drivers. American cities featured improved roadways, ample parking, and traffic signals long before European cities did.
Taxes: In general, taxes make it much more expensive to own and operate a car in Europe than in America. At the same time, large portions of the vehicle and gas taxes collected in America are used specifically for road infrastructure, making driving more attractive and convenient.
Interstates: The American Interstate Highway System cuts straight through most major cities and has made travel by car the easiest and most convenient way to get from suburban residential areas to downtown business centers in one step. In Europe, highways typically link cities without penetrating them, making it more likely that drivers will need to use public transportation to get to their downtown destinations.
Policy Focus: In the US, responses to traffic and pollution problems have centered on improving technology and infrastructure rather than changing behavior. In Europe, technological improvements such as cleaner fuels have been combined with policies like car-free zones and bike networks that encourage people to drive less.
Public Transit: Public transportation systems received more support in Europe than in America during the rise of the automobile. In American cities, privately owned transit systems often went out of business as more and more people began driving everywhere, while European subsidies and slower mass motorization helped keep their public transit systems solvent.
More Driving Means More Accidents
Regardless of how far you drive your car each day, every time you get into your vehicle you are risking involvement in a car accident. Though you may be a very safe driver, you have no control over what other drivers do. Fortunately, you can hold irresponsible drivers liable for their actions with the help of a car accident attorney like Fernando D. Vargas. If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas as soon as possible for expert representation and assistance.