The world is completely run by cars. In 2016, there were 1.8 cars per American household and traffic is slower than ever. A study done in 2014 showed that traffic in London was moving as slow as horse-drawn carriages in the 1800s. So why are we still driving?
Many college cities like Richmond, Boston and Dallas have found that 76% of students walk to class rather than drive. This causes a problem with who runs the road. Cars are physically larger and many drivers seem to take on the idea that this means they rule the streets. However, the idea that cars own the road is a very new one. In fact, the streets used to be only pedestrians. Peter Norton of Vox Media spoke up about this. He claims that “A century ago, the city street was a public place that was open to everybody. It was shared by pedestrians, horses, streetcars, and weird old-timey bicycles alike.”
Pedestrians were essentially robbed of their right to walk where they please. This isn’t just a power struggle though, people are dying in the process. In 2015, 70,000 pedestrians were hit by cars and a staggering 5,376 died. The National Library of Medicine estimates that over 5.1 billion dollars are spent on pedestrian injury every year.
Having lived in two cities myself, I can see both sides of the problem. Jaywalking is a real and serious problem plaguing Richmond currently with students crossing the streets during green lights and getting hit. But those drivers should also be cautious of the area they are driving in. If it is a heavily populated area that is known for having many pedestrians, it should be obvious to the driver to slow down near intersections and stoplights. The other problem is people running red lights and especially at night, this causes problems for people trying to cross the street. Both parties need to pay attention. It should be more of the responsibility of the car because the car is bigger and faster than a human. Someone bumping into a car is hardly ever harmful but a car hitting someone can cause serious injury or even death.
Human life is more important than getting to your job on time. Human life is more important than showing off your car’s muffler on a main road. Human life is more important than your phone when you are staring at it at a red light that just turned green. Use your eyes, use your brain and please watch out.