"Today all but the bottom-most fraction of the impoverished in the Unite States do most of their routine traveling by car: 100 auto trips in the United States for every one trip on a bus or the subway, according to the American Public Transit Association."
I am 59 years old having been born at the end of 1945. My grandfather, Rufus, who died at age 94 was born in 1896. He was a farmer in North Bergen, NY. I remember him telling me that as a young man he took chickens to the public market in Rochester, NY about 20 miles a way this time of year, in January, in a horse drawn sleigh. I can't imagine such a thing. People are whining as I write this about a recent "storm" system that has come though our area dropping about 10 inches of snow and "travel advisories" are posted about unnecessary travel.
I just might go to Rochester, NY this afternoon because the sun is out, the roads have been plowed, and I can get to Rochester in my heated car in about 35 minutes on the interstate (it is 32 miles away).
I have riden the Park and Ride bus in my daily commute from Brockport to Rochester (22 miles), and I have ridden the train to New York City from Rochester a few times (360 miles), but I have driven hundreds of times to New York City, and thousands of times to Rochester, NY, and Buffalo, NY. We have become a nation of car drivers, dependent on a life style made possible by automobiles.
Easterbrook's continuing question is "has this made us any happier?"
Easterbrook points out in another place in his book, on page 72:
"Figures from the World Health Organization show that in 2000, the most recent year for which statistics are available, four times as many people globally died in traffic accidents than in any form of combat - 1.3 million traffic deaths versus 300,000 deaths from war. That car crashes currently pose a greater threat to the citizens of earth than combat is surely progress in the right direction."
In 2002 there were 42,815 deaths in highway crashes in the Unites States, 17,419, or 41 %, of which were alcohol related.
It makes me wonder whether we really need to be so concerned about terrorists? Terrorism can be a problem just as criminal activity is a problem in every society, but as a public health issue terrorism is small potatoes considering the carnage on our highways. The love affair of the American and his/her automobile comes with a pricetag of human life that apparently we are willing to accept for the advantages of mobility and independence.