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July 30, 2008

Benefits of cars

Today we hear considerable criticism of cars. We hear they cause traffic congestion and pollution, and now we're focused on the cost of operating them with higher gas prices. Does this mean we'd be better off without cars and trucks? Listen

Dr. Mike Walden, North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, responds:

"Well, I think this is one of those things where we've had cars and trucks and vehicles in general for so long that we've gotten used to them and we really have forgotten what it was like before we had those kinds of modes of transportation. One of the big things of course they provide is increased mobility. Think about your job. Think about how many more jobs that are possible for you to take by having a car and being able to reach those companies versus if you had to walk to your job. And so one thing that cars do is it improves the mobility of workers and lets them cast a wider net in finding and keeping a job. Same thing with shopping. What if you had to only shop at stores that you could walk to or ride a horse to? Again you'd be much more limited than having a car where you have many more stores that are in your range. So again that increases not only the availability of stores to you, it increases the competition between those stores and gives you a lower price. And then just lastly, think about pleasure. How many of us in North Carolina, of course we are very lucky to be in this state where we have both the beaches and mountains, how many of us could go to the beach and go to the mountains in a day's time if we live in central North Carolina without having a car? So yes, there are a lot of issues with cars and we don't want to downgrade those, but we also don't want to forget the big benefits."

Posted by Dave at July 30, 2008 09:03 AM