Friday, September 4, 2009

The immorality of most personal motor vehicles

In terms of individual human activities, private motor vehicles have one of the highest — if not the highest — rates of killing people who are not in the vehicle causing the accident (such as pedestrians, cyclists and people in other vehicles).

From a moral standpoint, using a private motor vehicle — when there is a safer alternative available — means valuing personal convenience over the lives of others.

To be clear: Given that most travel and transport could be done with safer alternatives, the vast majority of drivers and their passengers are effectively saying that they are willing to endanger the lives of other people for their own, selfish, convenience.

That’s without even getting into the awful environmental, social and economic impacts of a society that supports personal motor vehicles when there could be viable alternatives.

Please note that I am careful to not make this a value judgement against every single driver or personal motorized vehicle. There are situations where there aren’t viable alternatives (such as for many emergency vehicles, some rural usage and some transportation of the physically impaired). There are also situations where it is a community or society as a whole that is responsible for failing to support alternatives. In those cases, the individual who does not have a viable alternative may not be acting immorally in driving a personal vehicle, but they do hold the moral responsibility to do everything they can to push their society to change for the better.

I am also very specifically referring to personal motor vehicles, such as cars and trucks. Mass-transit, while often using motor-vehicles, has a much lower rate of injury and death than private motor vehicles.

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