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THE horrendous deaths of 10 people – eight in Donegal and two more elsewhere in the country over the past weekend – highlights the enormous social costs of the car in society. It also demonstrates a huge hypocrisy that permeates society when confronting the issues and contradictions that surround car culture in general.
To quote Rex Weyler, in his web article Cars, Corporations and Society: “The car is one of the prime forces of destruction on our planet, among the most harmful social design decisions in history – inefficient, deadly and toxic.”
In Autogeddon (1991), English poet and playwright Heathcote Williams described cars’ trail of death and devastation as a “humdrum holocaust – the third world war nobody bothered to declare”.
Despite more than 50 million road deaths since its first appearance, the menacing attraction of the car continues to prey on human ego and gullibility, the carnage continues and society still maintains its “dishonest view” of its horrendous impact. The “regular holocaust of the road” is written off in people’s minds as an unfortunate side-effect of “progress” and one of the unlucky downsides of being an unabashed car-lover.
The Government continues to build an expanding lattice of roads around cities and huge inter-urban motorways to facilitate escalating car numbers and their unsustainable social and environmental costs. It is this type of car-centred mindset that will have to change if we are to halt the holocaust on the roads.
The state made up of responsible people cannot allow this to drift to its inevitable catastrophe and escalate into an even greater social evil. The hypocrisy will have to stop and a deliberate and effective effort made to change the way we transport ourselves. Unless we move away from cars, time will continue to change us for the worse. Events like the tragedy in Donegal will go on making the headlines.
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