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The Automobile: Affair of the American Heart

America has long had a soft spot for the automobile and it has shaped our nation drastically. We are now at the stage where cars are so integrated into our society that they are often overlooked even when they have a definitive effect on the margins of our society.

History of the Auto-Nation

We take for granted how intertwined cars are to our society but how did that happen? When did it start? 

Unsafe at Any Speed, and the Value of Death

One of Ralph Nader’s first steps onto the scene was writing a book title “Unsafe at Any Speed” advocating for an effort to make cars safer. His book was published in 1965 and from 1965-1974 there were 513,981 deaths from automobile accidents. To put this into perspective over the same time period approximately 55,000 people died in the Vietnam War equal to roughly one year of deaths from auto accidents.

The Rural Dependency

This blog is onto another topic that gets very little attention in the media and that’s the rural dependency upon cars as their method of transportation. In rural communities where there is little public transportation and long distances to travel in order to shop, work, visit friends, etc. the population needs to depend upon cars as the main method of transportation. This is significant for 2 reasons, one that the medium income is lower in rural areas and two that there are greater distances that need to be traveled in order to live.

Introduction

It often goes unnoticed in our day to day life how important cars are in the US. Think for a minute how often you’re in a car? Daily? Driving to work? Going to get something from Potsdam? How did you get to school at the beginning of the semester?

The Margins of the Autonation

Cars have long been a status symbol and continue to do so in the US. However nowhere is it more relevant and visible than the economic rims of our society. In the poor rural and urban areas of the US cars are a greater status symbol and some people spend more money on them than they most likely should. There is little research done on this topic so instead I’m going to use popular media as a social barometer if you will.