Should Cars Be Outlawed?

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 (our Sages from the time of the Mishnah and Gemara) 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.

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2 thoughts on “Should Cars Be Outlawed?”

  1. That driverless truck idea would cost 3.5 million truck drivers to lose their job, which in turn would cost the government $50,400,000,000 in unemployment cost and possibly disability cost (in the case of mental illness and depression caused by inability to get a job that actually pays a living wage!) Oh yes, those driverless vehicle to save the rich more money so that we can save 35,000 lives. What a joke!

    How so? Do you, anyone who thinks those driverless vehicles are brilliant, realize that the reason why all those people who used to stuff envelopes and do other menial tasks that replaced by robots don’t have job anymore? The rich took them away and lied to us. Some of us have cognitive disorders taht don’t allow us to work at the jobs that require more skill. Some of us can’t even operate a cash register without causing the poor manager an hour of work or more, just trying to get the til to balance. Others of us can’t push in cart due to physical limitations. Some of us are deaf. Some of us are blind. Some of us just simply have a brain that randomly shows up. We are the people who are the “undesirables” of America.

    Now, the truck drivers, are usually not considered “undesireables”. Normally they have a good brain and don’t look like they “may have a cognitive disorder”. The problem is that office jobs aren’t plenty and rarely pay a living wage. Skilled labor jobs require training that no one wants to pay for, and the unemployed can’t pay for. They don’t have the money. The rich aren’t going to pay for it. I only saw the ad once, where Skilled labor job with free training was offered. That ad only aired one time. I was told that our skilled labor jobs went overseas. No surprise. Who wants to work in a loud environment that caused ear tinning and you to not be able to hear your own children? OTOH, many unemployed would take such jobs, if they thought they would be hired. However, the rich shot themselves in the foot sort of, when they insisted that we all be pretrained and have at least 5 years experience. Because of that, many people didn’t bother applying for those skilled labor jobs. This in turn, caused the jobs to move overseas, which in turn ended up shooting ourselves in the foot and not the rich. The rich found they could save millions if not billions of $$$. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

    signed one who fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) has a BS in Social Science with concentrates in Sociology, Criminal Justice and History. Math was done with simple google search to find the number of professional drivers in the USA and then assuming that the government would only pay about $1200 per driver who lost their job. This is a gross rounding down in some cases, but still came up with a huge number.

    • Hi Kytriya – Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that the introduction of driverless trucks will cause massive disruptions in the lives of truck drivers and their families. This has been true of many technological advances since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. As I understand it, textile mill workers in England tried to destroy automatic looms which threatened their jobs.

      However, I disagree with your characterization of this as a battle between rich and poor. Business owners want to make a profit for themselves and their stock holders. Employees want to earn a decent wage and support their families with dignity. Sometimes those goals are in alignment, sometimes they conflict.

      Society as whole is better off when businesses use the most efficient methods. It is the job of society to help those who are displaced and help them learn the new skills they need.

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