Should Cars Be Outlawed?

auto wreck

I had the privilege of learning Torah from several grandsons of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky.

One of them told me that his grandfather was convinced that Chazal would have decreed against cars.

It’s not hard to make a compelling case that driving is too dangerous and should not be permitted.

In 2009 (the latest US stats I could find) 33,808 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Another two thousand died from their injuries during the next 11 months.

In addition, 2.2 million people in the US were injured in 10.8 million wrecks.

That’s quite a toll.

Even though Chazal did not ban driving, it still may be that driving will become a thing of the past.

The website Next Big Future has a compelling discussion of advances being made in driverless vehicles.

It seems driverless trucks will be first. It makes since that companies would want to lower their shipping costs. Since truck are used to deliver so many products, it makes sense to start there.

It’s true that many professional driving jobs will be lost.

But as the author observes:

Too bad for the drivers over the next few decades but I want my commute time automated and I want grandma to be independent and mobile and I want to save lives and reduce injury from accidents

I’ve never been fond of the “if only one life is saved” type of argument. I find that argument is used to justify all sorts of dumb ideas.

However, it does seem that driverless vehicles can save lives, reduce injuries, and save time and major medical expenses.

Adding up all costs related to accidents—including medical costs, property damage, loss of productivity, legal costs, travel delays and pain and lost quality of life—the American Automobile Association studied crash data in the 99 largest U.S. urban areas and estimated the total costs to be $299.5 billion.

Traffic congestion wasted 4.8 billion hours and 1.9 billion gallons of fuel a year for urban Americans. That translates to $101 billion in lost productivity and added fuel costs.