Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Driving = Fun?

Tanner Foust, professional stunt and race car driver and host of many automative racing shows including “Top Gear”, wants to reverse the decline in people getting their drivers licenses by making it his mission to keep driving fun.

Mr. Foust, read someplace he can't remember, that 16 year-olds don't consider getting a drivers license a priority. He also doesn't remember what was a priority was but he thinks its technology. He feels the reason kids don't hang out in person is because they can communicate online instead of driving to someones house. Mr Foust fervently believes that we live a country “that is driven in large part by the automotive industry, and the idea of that going away just because we don’t need to drive in order to hang out with our friends in the next generation scares the crap out of me.”

As the host of the TV show “Top Gear he is paid to drive cars though malls and skip them across a lake like you skip a stone.

In the real world no one needs the razor sharp reflexes and years of training to drive in traffic like this:

Mr. Foust is paid a lot of money to race custom designed race cars that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require millions of dollars per year for a team of mechanics, travel to races and the expensive fees needed to enter them. In the real world cars, even used ones, are expensive to purchase, repair, and insure. On the other hand if you live in a city like Philadelphia there is plenty public transportation, bicycle infrastructure, and car share companies to meet your needs without having to own a car.

The days when when people chose to live in the suburbs are changing, for a growing number of people they want the access a city provides. The ability to live and work in the same community, to have access to a wide range of restaurants and entertainment, and the diverse people who make this possible. All without having to drive or assume the cost of car ownership.

Mr. Foust has watched movies about the future and he his frightened that in these movies people travel in some sort of self driving pod with no contact with the world around them. Yet when he encourages people, as a resident of Washington state, to drive into the mountains or up Pikes Peak all they are doing is traveling in pods of metal and glass. Its one thing to drive to a mountain top and look at the view, its a different experience when one hikes the mountain and sees nature up close.

By all means if you need a car to travel to these wonderful places like Pikes Peak, do so. But for day to day life do we really need the stress of traffic jams, aggressive drivers, and the ever changing cost of gasoline? People like Mr Foust who cling to the past instead of helping to shape the future scare the crap out of me.

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