Automobile

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A car

Automobiles are a common form of transport in much of the developed world. Automobiles, also known as cars, are generally large, multi-ton wheeled carriages powered by combustion engines. These vehicles are capable of travelling long distances at a respectable speed. Unfortunately, most automobiles burn fossil fuel, which pollutes the atmosphere and is non-renewable. The carbon dioxide emissions from these fuels also contributes to global warming.

Contents

[edit] Brief history

This Mercedes likely won't help you get a date. Unless she's 127 years old.

The first automobile was designed in 1886. By 1908, cars were being mass produced, and soon the automobile's body style began to diversify (e.g. hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, etc.). Unfortunately, large cars built on truck chassis, called "sport utility vehicles" (SUVs), became popular in the U.S. during the 1990s as status symbols. These SUVs suffer from safety issues and are very inefficient. Fuel price increases in 2007 and 2008 led the American public to stop buying large numbers of SUVs, which created tremendous problems for American automobile manufacturers, which had made selling huge numbers of them the centerpiece of their financial strategies.

[edit] Pollution

In the wake of widespread concern over climate change and a recent increase in gasoline prices, many American automobile drivers have been switching over to hybrid cars and smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, some drivers continue to buy and use highly inefficient SUVs, such as the iconic Hummer, despite the economic and environmental problems that these vehicles pose.[1].

Many products and methods exist which ostensibly improve automobile performance and gas mileage. Some of them work (e.g., smaller engines). Some of them don't (e.g., "go-faster" stripes and massive exhausts).

[edit] Car-free zones

In some places cars are outright banned. In some cases, this can be for public safety (keeping cars away from busy streets packed with people) and other times it is to cut down on pollution levels and traffic in inner city areas. This is sometimes enforced in cities and towns with ancient architecture, where car based pollution has been blamed for accelerated erosion of historical ruins.[2] Islands such as Sark and cities like Venice don't have cars for obvious practical reasons, such as the lack of roads.

[edit] Deaths

In addition to the environmental impact of automobiles, their use also claims many lives each year, with approximately 3,000 deaths cause by automobile use in the UK each year.[3] The manufacturers and motorist lobbies have managed to successfully shift at least some of the blame for these incidents onto the victims. This has been done by the setting up of motorist-lobby funded "safety charities," such as the Road Safety Foundation in the UK which promotes cyclists and pedestrians dressing in high visibility clothing, in addition to helmets for cyclists. Much of this promotion is addressed directly to young children, in schools.[4]

The good news is, modern automobiles are considerably safer than they were half a century ago. Seat belts weren't even required on cars in the U.S. until 1968, let alone safety features like crumple zones, air bags, and antilock brakes. U.S. traffic fatalities were 10.4 per 100,000 persons in 2011, as compared with the all-time high of 26.4 per 100,000 persons in 1969.[5]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. The Associated Press (July 9, 2008). ""Hummer owners still love to play dirty.""Retrieved from CNN.com. Accessed November 16, 2008.
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20090804063947/http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s1064569.htm
  3. National Statistics Online (June 26th, 2008). "Road Casualties." Accessed July 9th 2010.
  4. UK Department for Transport (June 18th, 2010). "Education." Accessed July 9th 2010.
  5. So saith the other wiki.
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