This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.

Road traffic accidents, traffic collisions, auto accidents, road accidents, personal injury collisions, motor vehicle accidents, and crashes kill an estimated 1,200,000 people worldwide each year and injure an estimated 48,000,000 people. If we quoted those figures on anything but road traffic accidents governments and agencies would be rushing to find a solution to the problem. But because it's road trauma it gets a shake of the head and an acceptance of something that can't be avoided.


Many of these incidents are just what they look like - accidents. A result of inattention and human error, however many of them could easily be avoided.


Maserati Quattroporte High priced sleek cars are desired for the status they give the owners
The car or motorcycle has a special part in the psyche of humans and represent much more than a mode of transport. Why is it necessary to spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars on a car that will travel at 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) when in most places in the world the speed limit is very rarely above 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph)?


What would happen if worldwide legislators cracked down on car manufacturers and insisted that cars be considered a mode of transport and must not travel in excess of 100kph? Their aim would be to take away the status symbol of the motor vehicle and it would no longer be a way to advertise to your neighbour how affluent you are. Young men would no longer be able to show girls how strong they are and treat cars as a way to advertise the size of their penis.


Perhaps they'd still have powerful engines with a speed limiter so cars could accelerate away from traffic lights. Maybe this could allay the competitive spirit and still allow advertisers to still see cars as sexy. World wide clandestine businesses would set up to hot up cars to still give that feeling of power under the bonnet when the accelerator is stamped on.


There is no doubt that fast cars provide an adrenaline rush that gives the driver the feeling of power and makes him or her think they can conquer the world. But there is a price. Cars are killing us at an alarming rate and anything that can be done to alleviate the death and injury toll must be undertaken.


Right now the implication that cars and motorcycles make you look rich, smart, sexy, fast, elegant, strong and able to get laid anytime you like must be seen for what it is, a device to sell cars and bikes, it's not true - it is an illusion. The only real purpose of these vehicles is as a mode of transport and any thing else is in the eye of the beholder and is an illusion. Of course some people admire people who have fast sleek modern cars, but they also admire people who live in large houses. It's not admiration it's envy. It's a human trait to want to be envied.


The statistics are interesting with the advent of women into the market for new cars. In the main, they purchase smaller and slower cars and it is obvious they want to give off a much more caring and environmentally conscious image. Consequently, accident figures are less for women and show the way for men to become safer drivers.


The real problem comes when these powerful cars are sold on the second-hand market and become available to young people who seek the rush of power now in their price range. Some of these driver's skills are not able to handle these cars and many young people are cut down in their prime either showing off to their mates or girl friends with catastrophic results. It's almost a daily occurrence on our roads to see a community in mourning about the death of young people.


Then some young people seek the ultimate adrenaline rush in a high-speed chase with police in a stolen car. Peer pressure, plus the need to be seen by their mates as brave and able to outwit the police motivates young men to engage in chases that sometimes have fatal outcomes.


Burnouts and the ability to create an atmosphere of admiration for the way they can control powerful cars also has young hoons creating havoc in the community to impress their peers and use this behaviour as a metaphor to advertise how they don't give a hoot for community standards and safety. An attitude that is popular with his social group.


In this day and age it seems as if high speed vehicles could be stopped by some device that cuts out the engine that only the police and traffic authorities have the use of. Or some sealed box that is fitted to vehicles that stops them if they engage in illegal or dangerous activity.


It surprises the writer that most of the campaigns about the road toll are addressed to people to slow down and obey the speed limit, when society has drilled into drivers through advertising and community attitudes that fast cars are good and part of how they should see themselves. Certainly better roads and technology with warning electronic systems will help but nothing will work while the motor vehicle and its speed are the main criteria for the way we see ourselves and the adrenaline rush that comes from putting your foot down.



Source - Wikipedia Encyclopaedia.