As a person who commutes solely by bicycle, I am shocked by the inundation of auto ads on T.V. and in my social media news feed.
Maybe it is because I live a auto free life that I notice the frequency of the ads?
I’ve spent a great deal of time educating myself on safety and laws which govern our use of public space. I even have some nifty certifications to show for all that time spent.
People are being injured and killed at an alarming rate. Traffic fatalities fall in 2014, but early estimates show 2015 trending higher.
Though this isn’t anything new, since the inception of the automobile the death toll has been catastrophic. Americans have recognized the dangers of high auto speeds. It’s a universal knowledge that speed kills. Yet it is often the last reason cited in traffic collision reports. There was a time when people tried to mandate the use of governors to effectively reduce the operating speeds of motor vehicles. Auto manufacturers were understandably alarmed.
Higher awareness about the inherent dangers of speed meant less product sold. Or maybe it was that fewer people would crash and destroy their auto thus requiring the purchase of a new auto?
Either way a slick propaganda campaign was implemented and people were convinced that this was an end to their personal freedom. Never mind the freedom of everyone else.
Companies, such as AAA, which today are known for their emphasis on safety were behind the push to force pedestrians and bicycles off the road.
AAA and other auto clubs turned first to the younger generation, financing safety education programs in the public schools that were designed to teach children that streets are for cars, not for kids. “The Invention of Jaywalking.”
The product, and the financial gains to be had from it, were the driving force behind the movement to all but eliminate the competition.
Once the landscape had been cleared of obstacles, figuratively and literally, the motor manufacturers were free to irresponsibly sell product.
The advertisements were focused on economy, durability, and reliance.
They emphasised the manliness of auto owners and their ability to “Wow” the ladies. One advert emphasised their auto as being so easy “Women and children can safely use it.”, another calls their auto the “Boss of the Road” and “So simple that a boy of 15 can run it.”
Motor ads were not responsible in the advertisement of their products. They had one mission in mind, to sell as many autos as possible. No matter the cost to human lives.
That cost was excessive. Upto 55,000 people were killed per year by autos. That’s an epidemic!
When faced with a health crisis of these proportions, we take action. Yet we have largely overlooked the consummate dangers to public health by turning a blind eye to auto ads.
We banned ads for cigarettes, as public awareness grew over the dangers of smoking to the public. Big tobacco companies were pushing their product on unsuspecting consumers.
By banning ads for cigarettes public health interests, like W.H.O., have effectively reduced the incidence of smoking. This is an important beginning step to eliminating an expensive and destructive bad habit. The costs of which affect the user individually and the public as a whole. We acknowledged the health risks to the users of tobacco products as well as to those who were subjected to secondhand smoke.
The auto isn’t any different.
The auto is the most dangerous form of transportation available in modern day.
The health impacts are mind boggling. Pollution, cancer causing agents, socio economic suffering, legal systems which punish the poor through a pay to play ticket scheme, the death of our children outside and inside autos, and increased health risks through lack of exercise. It’s all too much to put into one story.
Not too much more can be said, which has not already been said, about the history and nature of the auto.
The automobile is a weapon or a tool. It mainly depends on the ability and intent of the user.
There was a time when the auto filled a need as a personal mobility device. With the expanding use of public transportation and alternate means of travel it is a product whose time has come and gone.
With denser urban areas becoming the norm, revivals in public transit, and auto for hire schemes such as Lyft and Uber; there really isn’t a need for personal autos. Not even for long distance trips. Rent a car and be done with it.
One would think that we’d be over the car kick by now. Except we aren’t.
Part of the reason, I believe, is because of persuasive auto ads. These ads are designed to create a sense of urgent need and a feeling of superiority when on the road.
Gas prices are dropping and Auto Ads are increasing. Along with these increases are deaths. Your loved ones are being destroyed by auto culture and you’re ok with it. Not because you’re ok with your loved one being killed, but because you are brainwashed by auto ads to believe you need that product which is killing your loved ones.
Remember cigarette ads on T.V.?
Neither do I. Yet there was a time when they were sold via television ads. So many ads telling people how sexy smoking was, how invigorating, how tasty! Smoking was increasing and so were the illnesses associated with it.
Through the efforts of activists who genuinely cared about the well being of the American people, over the profits of cigarette manufacturers, a ban on television ads were put into place.
In 1964, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed that advertisers had a responsibility to warn the public of the health hazards of cigarette smoking. In 1969, after the surgeon general of the United States released an official report linking cigarette smoking to low birth weight, Congress yielded to pressure from the public health sector and signed the Cigarette Smoking Act. Via History Channel
This is exactly what we need for auto ads.
We need a full out ban on ads which promote products rated by the CDC as the number one killer of our children.
Driving is not a passive act. It is hard work and you are required to keep your wits about you while you are doing it.
With the huge flux of auto ads telling us that driving is fun, easy, desirable, sleek, sexy, and your ticket to freedom. Is it any wonder that people “feel” like they “need” to drive?
These are all catch phrases that were used to push cigarette ads and yet we were able to fight “the man” and have them kicked off of television and radio.
So why aren’t we doing that for auto ads?
So the next time you see an auto ad pop up in your news feed, be sure and let them know what you find disturbing about it and add the hashtag #BanAutoAds. Your children’s lives depend on it.
You have options on how to get to work and people are fighting to make those options easier and more accessible to you. Help them.
Don’t wait around for special infra as some people will tell you to do. Take an education course such as Cycling Savvy and learn what real freedom actually feels like.
You can safely travel by walking, cycling, public transport, and auto rentals to get you where you need to go.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 8, 2016
All that space removed from auto’s gives us more space to build business’, shops, schools, and cultural activities.
Auto companies are gathering slick advertisers to promote their dangerous product to children using cartoons.