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The Breakdown with Brian Baker

Blog > The Breakdown with Brian Baker > Make Cars Death Traps Again

Make Cars Death Traps Again

It's Time for More Blood on the Highway!

 

(Archive Photos / Getty Images)

I'm an angry driver, and advancements in technology have made me an increasingly rageful commuter with each passing year. Driving is one of the few skills for which I had a natural aptitude since birth, and I'm damn good at it.

I was proud when I received my license in 1994, and I worked hard for it. I took Driver's Ed at a private, accredited school, studied my tail off, and earned the highest scores of any student to attend classes at that location for the prior six years.

My first time behind the wheel of a manual transmission, I put the car in gear and took off without a problem. I didn't stall; I didn't do the bunny hop; I didn't grind the gears.

I've been driving for 25 years and I've never had an accident - NOT ONE!

I took my love for driving to Hollywood and earned a living as a professional driver for several years, performing complex maneuvers and shooting high-speed chases that never went wrong.

Yes, I'm arrogant about my talent behind the wheel, and if I'm ever riding shotgun in your car, rest assured that I'm quietly judging you.

The thing is, talent behind the wheel and pride in being a good driver used to be fairly common in America. These days, most millennials know few if any rules of the road, and no one aspires to be a competent and skillful driver. Think I'm exaggerating? Try finding someone under the age of 25 who can drive a standard transmission. 

I'm surrounded by the incompetency of my fellow motorists every single day - passing on the right, texting while driving, running through intersections with traffic lights that have already been red for a good five to 10 seconds.

Frankly, I've had enough.

Then this morning I had the most brilliant epiphany: the secret to safer roads is less safe cars.

There was a glorious time in America when the majority of automobiles were death traps.

1950 was a banner year for traffic fatalities, with 33,186 individuals meeting their doom on America's roadways. Fatalities related to automobile accidents peaked in 1972 at 54,589, then began to decline. 2011 saw the fewest number of highway fatalities since the peak of '72, at 32,479, and it's been on the rise ever since.

That's right, at a time when cars have never handled better and never had more safety features, traffic fatalities are on the rise. I suspect that might have a little something to do with an epidemic of overconfident drivers, which can be directly attributed to life-saving advancements in the automotive industry.

It's time to do away with seat-belts, airbags, hydraulic brakes, power steering, blind-spot detection, forward-collision alerts, and possibly turn-signals. Make all cars death traps once again.

If Americans got behind the wheel of their car secure in the knowledge that they had less than a 50% chance of surviving a collision, I'm betting they'd leave their phones in the glove compartment and focus on safe driving again.

Granted, the actual statistcs support the direct opposite of my thesis, but I still think I'm right.

(To complain about the content of this op-ed piece, send all correspondence to bbaker@indy.emmis.com or harass Brian on Twitter @naptownbri)

 

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