Whether or not you are for or against driving, cars aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Every year millions of cars are sold and in recent years the industry has been booming, especially because of a healthy American economy and a growing world economy. The auto industry, which only began about a century ago, has come a long way, in a relatively short period of time. By some estimates, 90% of American households own cars, today.

There are modern alternatives to driving, like taking the bus, yet so many people continue to drive cars. What’s thought provoking is that the biggest reason for driving cars could be emotional. Today’s society is compact and privacy isn’t always easy to come by. Many people live in close quarters and then go to work in shared office spaces. So, time spent in the car, may be the only time, to make private phone calls or simply to escape the gaze of others. Cars also provide mobility which appeals to people’s sense of freedom. So, driving, in the face of other similar options, could be emotionally based.

While some aspects of driving have positive impacts, there are also drawbacks. For one, it’s incredibly dangerous to drive, since it involves high speeds, which have been known to result in deathly collisions. In fact, car accidents are a leading cause of death, even more than cancer in some countries. Another risk of driving is sitting, since being seated for long periods of time can be bad for the health. Yet, drawbacks aside, driving isn’t slowing down - literally. Here’s a closer look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of driving and how it affects you…

The Good

1.    Privacy

You don’t necessarily have to jump into the newest model, Aston Martin, to enjoy the privacy a car. Any humble, yet reliable Toyota Camry will do just fine. Your car creates a physical boundary between you and the rest of the world, which breaks the gaze of others. Any personal space can make you feel completely at ease. In fact, everyone has their own reasons for why privacy benefits wellbeing. Whether one believes that it establishes a sense of individuality in an ever-information sharing society, or because mystery is what makes life more interesting, few will argue that privacy is overrated. If you’re lucky enough to own a hunk of metal on wheels, you’re awarded a tangible privacy that goes with you where you go.

2.    Freedom

Can you believe that in 2018, we live in a world that still has limits on freedom? Imagine that only this year, women in Saudi Arabia, were granted the freedom to drive. Yet, also this year, Bolivia’s government began a movement to restrict religious freedom by making, Evangelism, a crime. People’s need for freedom is so strong that when it becomes threatened, it’s not uncommon for protests to break out, even at the risk of prosecution. Of course, one of the greatest freedoms is that of mobility. Thus, anyone who owns a car, which provides the opportunity to travel wherever, whenever, is blessed.  So, the next time you’re planning your road trip to a fancy destination, remember to be thankful that you are free.    

3.    Meditation

Have you ever been on a long drive and then began pondering important life decisions, like should my next car be new or used, or can I afford to go on a long trip? It’s not all that uncommon to get lost in thought while on the road and many people value this time, to just sit and think. There really isn’t a whole lot else to do on an open highway. So, the next time you’ve been struggling with life’s toughest questions, get behind the wheel and problem solve them. Even if you don’t get all the answers, at the very least, you’ll have obtained some insights. Of course, highways are best traversed with cars that are fuel efficient, like the new BMW’s. Avoid fully electric cars, since they may not get you very far and especially, don’t use diesels, like the Volkswagen diesel, since they’re harmful to the environment.    

The Bad

1.    Expensive

Every driver in existence knows that one of the biggest expenses is driving. Consider that in today’s society, only 10% of Americans can be considered wealthy, which leaves everyone else scrounging to pay their car bills. This includes the initial purchase of the car, government taxes on that purchase, the cost to register a license plate, the ongoing expense of gas and maintenance, and any parking and speeding tickets obtained along the way. By some estimates, driving privilege comes at a hefty cost of over $8,000 a year. For many, this is stressful, since financial stress remains among the top stressors, year after year. So, there is a literal cost to all that privacy, freedom, and meditation, which only blood, sweat, and tears can buy. Just kidding – but definitely money.      

2.    Sedentary

It seems as though society has become more sedentary and it’s common for people to work at desks and engage in sedentary past-times, like watching movies. Getting behind the wheel of a car only increases the amount of time spent sitting. Seated drivers have increased risk of obesity and estimates show that only two hours of driving a day, increases risk by 80%. Of course, there are exceptions, like for anyone who works a physically demanding job. Well then, sitting in a car isn’t going to undo that eight hours of daily activity. However, anyone who works in an office and also has sedentary hobbies should be careful about the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. They might want to consider compensating with physical activity, either during or outside of work.  

3.    Pollution

It’s likely that everyone’s heard of global warming, since it’s said to be the cause of recent year’s extreme weather patterns, like heavy rainfall and heat waves. Estimates show that up to 30% of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere can be attributed to the exhaust from cars. Thus, driving any fuel-powered car harms the environment. Even electric cars can pollute, depending on the power source. Electric cars powered by coal will still cause CO2 pollution, perhaps even more than fuel-efficient gas cars. All cars cause particle pollution, from the wearing of brakes and tires, which increases the risk of lung cancer. So, no matter the car, driving causes pollution, and it’s better to drive less.

The Ugly

1.    Car accidents

With over half of the US population driving, it’s no wonder that car accidents remain a leading cause of death. In fact, 40, 000 American drivers died in 2016, not to mention, those who did not get into fatal accidents. They say that the primary culprit for deathly accidents is speed, so driving the speed limit could at the very least, reduce fatalities. Also, becoming a better driver could reduce accidents. Some studies have shown that first-person shooter video games improve motor skills, which translates to better driving ability. Yet, there are aspects of driving that are completely out of a person’s control, like car defects. In the 1980’s, there was a popular model of Ford, called the Bronco, and an estimated 70 people died a year, in rollover accidents. This was to no fault of the driver, since Broncos rolled over, going as slow as 20 MPH, under factory testing conditions. All this to say, that you could drive the speed limit, be a great driver, and have a reliable car, yet still die in an auto accident because of another driver. So, spending less time on the road is inherently safer.   


Being able to drive is one of life’s many pleasures, yet it’s also one of life’s pains. In one instant, driving can bring a person a sense of freedom, yet in another, it can cause stress. It’s good to take a step back and think about how driving affects you. If the impact feels positive overall, then there’s little reason to decrease driving. However, if driving contributes to weight gain and stress, then you might want to compensate with stress busting activities or simply drive less. Purchasing a fuel-efficient or electric car could also benefit the environment, which has indirect health benefits. Just remember that it’s all the little every day things that affect how people feel and that includes driving.