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RoseGoesToYale

Driving culture doesn't make sense

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RoseGoesToYale

(in this instance "driving culture" refers to the practice of a large percentage of a population regularly using a civilian-driven car as a primary means of transport, and excludes the collection and showing of vehicles and other car-related hobbies or sports)

 

From start to finish, it doesn't make sense. In the US, people spend the first 15 years of their life waiting for the opportunity to drive, to achieve that "freedom". Until then, they either have to have their parents chauffer them everywhere, bike, or take the bus/subway if they're allowed and/or can buy a pass. The first one doesn't make much sense, since parents work or otherwise have schedule conflicts and they can't drive their kids and their friends around every time they want to go somewhere. A lot of suburbanite kids in my area (myself included) were forbidden to ride the city bus because our parents thought they were full of perverts and muggers, or worse... they considered it a "dirty" form of transport, for which there's no basis!

 

I seem to be on buses vs. cars, so I'll stick with that. According to my country it takes about a year to learn to drive (from age 15 learners permit to age 16 licence). You have to memorize laws and regulations, signage, driving maneuvers and their execution, vehicle operation and basic maintenance, and the dangers of DUI. There's a distinct possibility that the learner will damage the vehicle or property while learning. Then you have to take a test and physically demonstrate your driving ability. It takes a day or less to learn how to ride the bus. You wait at your stop, get on, pay/show your pass, pull the line and get off at your stop.

 

During driving, you must keep your eyes on the road at all times while simultaneously operating turn signals/horns, checking mirrors, making minute wheel corrections, and watching for dangerous drivers and pedestrians. If it's a 30-min drive, you must do these actions for thirty minutes. During a 30-min bus ride, you can: send emails, read the news, read a book, do your homework, listen to headphones, draw, eat a snack, sip coffee, stare out the window and ponder philosophy, chat with the person next to you, meet a future friend, meet your future spouse, text someone, or sit in peaceful silence. The driving task is someone else's problem. Then there's volume. An average minivan is about 5 meters long and can hold 1 driver and 4-6 passengers. A bus might be 7 meters longer (or more) and can hold six times that number of passengers (or more).

 

And then there are the stats. 1.3 million people die in traffic crashes a year, and an additional 20-50 million people get injured or disabled (http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics). Based on a 2010 study, about 50 passengers in a given year are killed in bus accidents (https://journalistsresource.org/studies/environment/transportation/bus-crashes-united-states-what-does-research-say). Any mode of transit can be dangerous, but driving a motor vehicle is one of the deadliest. If you do get in a car crash and survive, you may have to deal with hospital fees, insurance raises, car repair costs, angry or violent victims, court fees, manslaughter charges, or getting sued (or not being able to pay). Your driving record will be flawed forever and the government will probably look down on you from then on. If you get in a bus crash and survive, you may be entitled to compensation from the bus company, depending on the nature of the crash.

 

And finally (because this is getting too long) parking and money. If you can't find a space to legally park your vehicle, you're screwed. In many cases you may have to pay for parking (on top of all the other car expenses). My university charges $183 for an annual parking permit, which will amount to about $800 by the time I graduate. If I had known, I could've used that money for tuition. The average yearly cost to drive (2015, average) is $8,698. That by 60 years of driving comes to $521,880. You could buy a house with that money. You could buy a twin-engine plane with that money. You could travel... you get the point. In my area, it costs $65 for a 1-month unlimited pass (granted, my city's public transit needs serious help), coming to $780 a year to ride as many times as you need.

 

I could go on with points. Basically, driving is more dangerous and costly than it seems. Deaths, road rage, traffic jams, long hours sitting behind a wheel, parking, getting pulled over, breakdowns, gas prices, annoying advertisements, drunk drivers... is this "free"? Is there something I'm missing here?

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J. Alfred Prufrock

TBX being rubbish prompted this, didn't it?

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Touchofinsight

It would be literally impossible to use the bus for my every day life. Concerning my job and the logistics of moving things from place to place I would spend way too much of my precious free time on a bus.... (if i could find one).

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Dan99

I never wanted to, got excited about, or cared about ever being able to drive honestly.

 

But I'm a 17 year old not-really-adult-child, so what the hell do I know.

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Yato

In the USA, our country is insanely large and spaced out. You cannot secure a good job unless you have a car, and our public transport is consistently late, is actually legit full of crime (especially in the cities), and is insanely dirty (As are most public areas in populated places). It is also very limited, and usually a sign that one is poor. Driving really isn't hard, you are overthinking it. Our driving costs, test, and insurance is insanely cheap compared to places like UK. Parking is only an issue in dense cities, and not much anywhere else. But most people who live in city don't really own cars to begin with. So car culture makes perfect sense. My job is 3 towns over, and almost all public transport is limited to the cities. I do not live in the city, or work in it. So if I didn't have a car, I would not be able to work this job. In the USA, having a car is kind of like the right of passage into adulthood. It proves you can manage money and a stable job. People who usually cannot do it, are people who have never been outside of the city and are used to the conveniences of never having to travel 50 miles for dinner. You are completely overlooking rural areas, and the fact most people don't live in the cities. You seem to only be looking at this from a college kid perspective, and not much else. Traffic deaths are just the consequences of driving. Some people are just terrible drivers, don't pay attention etc. People are going to die, no matter what you do.

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Sally
4 minutes ago, Touchofinsight said:

It would be literally impossible to use the bus for my every day life. Concerning my job and the logistics of moving things from place to place I would spend way too much of my precious free time on a bus.... (if i could find one).

I don't have a job anymore but I go lots of places at random times, and I would be spending most of  my time on buses.  We have a lousy transit system here, and they keep changing the times the buses run.  Cars are expensive but I find one necessary, unless I'd just stay home all the time.   

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Yato
Just now, Sally said:

I don't have a job anymore but I go lots of places at random times, and I would be spending most of  my time on buses.  We have a lousy transit system here, and they keep changing the times the buses run.  Cars are expensive but I find one necessary, unless I'd just stay home all the time.   

That and they are always late! Before I got a car, I had to take a bus on a 80 min route across statelines, then transfer to another bus, and take that bus to the hub. Then get off at the hub, then bike 15 min to work. It was insanely inconvenient. If I was late, or if the bus was late. I had to call ahead to work to warn them. If I missed the bus, I would have to wait almost 2 hours for the next one. 

 

USA really don't have the type of layout that would make trains convenient either. They way cities are built here, are very rough and disorderly. There is just too much red tape to bother. 

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Graceful

oh god I hate driving!!! I hate everything about driving. I hate that I have to drive because there is no other option where I live. Everything is just too far apart to not drive without any form of reliable public transportation.

 

I only got my license and car for my current job that I got when I was 22. It's a requirement. That's really the only reason I know how to drive. I basically only ever drive to/from work and to/from doctor appointments. I only work 3 days a week and have maybe one appointment a week. I don't drive more than 30 minutes away. I don't drive much at all. Fortunately, I get free parking like... everywhere. Thanks, work. I also drive a Smart car. About once every... 4-6 weeks? I fill up my gas tank for less than $20. So that's fine.

 

What I really hate is that there's almost zero public transportation. And it really is a bit dangerous. And definitely literally dirty. And slow. There are very few buses around here. They're just local buses that go from like... the shopping district of the city to the in-land hospital and mall. (All about 30 minutes away from each other by car so even longer by bus because it makes a lot of stops around the town that has a lot of shootings and is entirely "low-income housing" and "half-way houses." It's not a safe place to walk around. They also make some stops around the motel strip that are mostly hookers, pedophiles, and semi-homeless people.) I have no idea how much it costs. There's no bus pass or anything that I know of and the only bus terminal is in the city. It would be impossible to rely on them for transportation to like work or appointment or something as they would only go to any given stop maybe 2 or 3 times a day. There are some people at work in the city that live on the other side of town and have to come into work over an hour early to make it on time because the buses are so infrequent.

 

We have a train but it's usually late and has very limited stops. (It just goes from one city to another [about an hour apart] with some stops between for small towns.) I use that to go to Philadelphia rather than drive. That's nice. The train sucks though - it's extremely old. 

 

I know how to look up train times on their website but I honestly don't understand how buses work or how I know which direction they're going in. Our public transit system is just horrific.

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Touchofinsight

Theres also the issue (at least where I live) is that if you want to be anywhere past 7pm.... well there wont be a bus for you. I work graveyard shits (late night to early morning anywhere from 7pm to 7am). I love graveyard shifts but if i didn't have a car id be riding a bike for nearly 2 hours each way. Considering I can work up to 12 hours a day sometimes 10+ days in row yea thats not sustainable. Ignoring all the times my boss asks me to come in early or stay late this makes using public tran impractical. My story is pretty common place after all so even if they did double down on all the buses and routes id still find it grossly insufficient. Theres also the privacy element of having your own car and autonomy to choose what goes on within it. I rode a boss across state lines once when I was young. From Sacramento to Portland... it was god awful.

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Jade Cross

Driving is a sort of necessary evil unfortunately for adults and even kids (capable of driving of course). I have been one to actually walk to and from work ranging from 1 hr 30m to 2h 45m or more because either bus transport was not available or it was extremely inefficient (dont ask me how I did it. Half the people that knew me thought I was insane)

 

And hitching a ride is something I personally do NOT recommend on account of a particular incident with an older gentleman that tried to get rather frisky with me while he gave me a ride for work a couple of years ago. Needless to say I was on my top guard and ready to get aggresive if needed but that still did not stop the experience from making me feel utterly disgusted and freaked out for the rest of the day.

 

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daveb

I grew up in southern California, one of the epitomes of car culture. I was never in hurry to become a driver. So that put a big limitation on all sorts of things, traveling to work and where I could either live or get a job, dating (at least back in those days, when the guy was usually expected to pick up the woman), going to various events, etc. I resisted for the longest time, taking the bus to and from work (which meant an extra 3 hours or so every work day sitting on buses and or waiting at bus stops), riding my bicycle to get places that weren't too far away to make that practical, moving to apartments that were closer to work, etc. At one time I was biking to work 2 miles each way (and later on around 8 miles each way); bus routes to those jobs were non-existent or would've taken much longer and not at convenient times. Then I was biking to community college in the evening a couple of nights a week; 2 miles each way, with the return home being around 11PM.

 

At age 29 I did get a driver's license and car. Not because I love cars or driving, but out of necessity. I was working night shift full time (with even less chance of any bus service) and going to college full time during the day. I could not have lived close to work and school, and could not have managed to commute by public transport.

 

In many places in the US (maybe more so in the western US), public transport is really insufficient, and it's not possible to make it sufficient enough with current technology. Maybe some day there will be better solutions, but for now, for many people, some form of transportation, with which each individual has control of in terms of when and where, is necessary.

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RoseGoesToYale

@Cthulhu If by TBX, you mean the Tampa Express, then I suppose to some degree. I stay as far away from it as I possibly can.

 

@Maou-sama You're absolutely right in the system is not perfect and needs a lot of work and lot of power put toward re-planning. If an area is purposed for car travel, public transit won't get as much funding or attention, and will probably be badly laid out. Getting affordable public transit to rural areas is also a big issue, but it's not impossible. The planning, I'm guessing, will probably take decades.

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JayDee1212

I agree with the original post 1000%. Even though the public transportation in my area is generally crappy and I complain about it a lot, it's still much better than driving for me. I've really never enjoyed driving, I always worry about other drivers around me, it seems there's always either someone inexperienced/aggressive/drunk on the road, there are so many accidents, traffic in my area is brutal...the list goes on. At least on the train I can just pop in my headphones and relax for the most part. I'm lucky to be in an area with good train access, but I have friends who aren't and they are practically forced to buy a car. I'm really not a car person either, I find them annoying and expensive to maintain. I honestly just Uber and use the the train 90% of the time these days. I feel bad for those who don't have that option though, hopefully they will at least improve bus access in the next few years and people's perceptions of public transportation will change. 

Also...as to the point of people being afraid of pervs on the train....yes, they do exist. But for every one weirdo there are about 500 people who are just trying to get home from work. If you're at all streetsmart, keep an eye on your purse, and don't get too distracted you shouldn't have much of a problem. 

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ItWasNiceKnowingYou

..... I am currently in a college town where nearly everything is in walking and even bus riding distance.

Are cars more reliable? Heck yeah they are.... For people who are fully allowed to drive.

Due to my vision problems, i can drive but i have more restrictions than a permit holder!! It's ridiculously annoying. I already can't do a lot of things driving wise without someone else there or i can get fined or warned or whatever,so i don't know how that "independent" moment feels.

I usually just walk or bus everywhere atm because it's part of my tuition and parking passes are too freaking expensive 

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Graceful
20 minutes ago, Jade Cross said:

I have been one to actually walk to and from work ranging from 1 hr 30m to 2h 45m or more because either bus transport was not available or it was extremely inefficient (dont ask me how I did it. Half the people that knew me thought I was insane)

I would be not only exhausted and achy but drenched in sweat and smell like an old gym sock.

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fuzzipueo
1 hour ago, RoseGoesToYale said:

I could go on with points. Basically, driving is more dangerous and costly than it seems. Deaths, road rage, traffic jams, long hours sitting behind a wheel, parking, getting pulled over, breakdowns, gas prices, annoying advertisements, drunk drivers... is this "free"? Is there something I'm missing here?

Well, it's simple for me: for the first 25 years there were no buses out where I lived and when there was one it was so sporadic you could not rely on it. Also, even though there is one here now, it could take up to 45 minutes (compared to 15-20 minutes) for me to get to work assuming that I'm on time, the bus is on time, and I don't miss the connecting bus, etc., etc. Add to that a mayor whose idea of rapid transit is all about an ego boo for himself and money for his cronies, and public transit in Albuquerque is a joke.

 

Though there are times when I really would like the bus, I like the convenience of being able to drive myself, especially if I have to stop at the store or what-have-you.

 

Car culture here in the states developed precisely because we have such a large, sprawled out country.

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Snao Cone

I have based most of my lifestyle around not having a car, and I have to say, it's a pretty damn great way for me to live. I am so, so happy I've never driven a car or planned my life with the presumption that I would have one. It's benefited my life in so many ways.

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Touchofinsight
3 minutes ago, Snao Çoñé said:

I have based most of my lifestyle around not having a car, and I have to say, it's a pretty damn great way for me to live. I am so, so happy I've never driven a car or planned my life with the presumption that I would have one. It's benefited my life in so many ways.

I wish i could do this but where i live it would be nearly impossible if i ever wanted to get a new job etc.

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Member44496

I drove a go kart once and crashed terribly... I had panic and accidentally pressed down fully on accelerate instead of break... I'm scared of that happening in a car situation as well as many other issues so I don't have any plan to drive...

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globetrotter85

I'm almost 32 and have never learned to drive. I've lived and worked in 5 different countries in the last 10 years and had some amazing experiences so can't say it's limited my life. 

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Cimmerian

The vast majority of that presumes that you have useful, affordable, safe, and reasonable public transportation, which the vast majority of the US lacks.


For me not driving isn't possible; there's absolutely no reasonable alternative way to get around. While there's a bare-bones public transport system in the downtown area, getting to that system is big issue, and once you do it has a very limited travel range. Additionally, even if we had a bus system the weather here would make waiting for it miserable.

You make it sound like driving is difficult, but it's really not. Once you learn you don't have to think much at all about the necessary things (blinker, mirrors, watching nearby traffic). And yes I've thought time could been spent other ways that was really only an issue to me while in school. Traffic's gotten worse here, but it's really only a problem during rush hours, so delaying travel slightly during those times isn't a big issue, or you just have a slightly longer drive by taking side streets. Chatting, listening to music, sitting in silence, and drinking coffee are all still very much possible when driving. :P

 

I love driving. I'm not limited to arranging my life or errands around someone else's schedule and odd time frames. If I'm restless and exercise doesn't cut it I can get out of the area and explore somewhere I wouldn't otherwise think of going. I've been limited to a small, but functional public transit system before where I luckily had close access to a stop and there was a well-kept schedule, but I never want to be limited to that again; it was claustrophobic and doing errands was still an extreme pain and the hours were limited or non-existent in the evenings. Freedom and ease of movement means a lot to me.

 

I see several of your positive of public transit as negatives, personally. I can't say I've ever wanted to have a prolonged conversation with anyone on public transit when I've taken it, and there are many times just having many people nearby is uncomfortable or distracting, and you increase your likelihood of becoming sick (smaller spaces, more people, likely less washed areas like handles etc.).
As for the deaths, there's something to be said for being in control of your own life. I'm at risk for a crash no matter what vehicle type I'm in or whether I'm driving or not, and taking public transport would only guarantee that I do not know the driver's safety record, ability, or any personal aspects that may make them safe or a danger. I'd rather have as much control over the situation as possible--- ergo driving. (And I'd think the number of bus-deaths would go up as the number of buses on the road increased. I expect they're significantly outnumbered by individually-owned cars and spend less time on the road on average than individual cars do.)

 

I do feel bad for people who drive/own cars in certain areas of the country though, due to congestion, the amount of bad drivers, and mostly paid parking area (paid parking is my biggest pet peeve about big cities). I can't imagine living and regularly driving in LA, NYC, or parts of the heavily-populated NE with many large cities near each other and I could see the need for an efficient, and more wide-spread public transit system in those areas.

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Snao Cone

I see paid parking as a great thing, because it's another incentive for people to think of alternatives to each taking an individual car to a location. Parking, especially surface parking lots, is a waste of space, in my opinion. I worry for my safety when I need to run errands, not from evil people lurking in the dark, but because of people who are consumed by thoughts of parking.

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Woodworker1968

To elaborate on what Maou-sama said, it's totally true—even a big city like L.A. is spaced out to about 60 miles wide, possibly more. The nearest train stop is 3 miles from me, and even with an EV, you still can't really beat the infrastructure because now there are a lot more charging stations but the catch is they're all owned by a bunch of different networks, which means it's a hassle to have to download an app for each one and subscribe to them all. 

 

I don't know if this is specifically an L.A. phenom, but it seems like everyone in this town who drives a BMW or a Mercedes drives as if stop signs and red lights don't apply to them, while a lot of Dodge Challenger drivers drive like they're chasing after Osama bin Laden. I never see anyone driving Teslas or Maseratis like reckless assholes.

 

I've never been to NYC, but from what I know about it, its vertical nature makes owning and operating a car impractical and expensive.

 

Add to that, with the US effectively a police state, it's often the cops and wealthy motorists you'd be wise to steer clear of.

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Gloomy

I didn't really drive until I was almost 24. I did like just being able to just get some homework done(when I was still going to school) or listening to music without having to pay attention to the road while I was on the bus. When I was still in school using public transport was pretty easy because there were always bus stops near the schools. Though I don't miss being surrounded by strangers and possibly having to sit right next to one. I haven't been hit on or harassed much since I stopped using public transport. Driving obviously takes me a lot faster to get from point A to point B; one time it took me 3 hours to get somewhere by bus/train which would have taken me 45 minutes tops by driving. Driving also makes it easier for me to travel at night since I refuse to walk alone at night due to my paranoia. I even had to have my dad pick me up from school one semester when I had a class that didn't get out until 7 pm.

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Tholomyes

What baffles me is the notion of driving as a status symbol (or more often, the reverse: the avoidance of public transportation because it's seen as being for poor people). I grew up in New York. Everyone from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor regularly used public transportation. In many ways it was a uniting feature, because no matter who you were, you'd be surrounded by people of different social classes, ethnicities, religions, cultures, ect. But now that I'm in Cleveland, there's a lot more separation because driving is just assumed, unless you can't afford a car, which means people wind up in their own little bubbles. Driving is so assumed that I had a friend cancel plans with me because his car broke down, and it never occurred to him that he could get there the same way I was planning to: the bus.

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Sally

My city of Seattle is taking a ridiculously impractical approach to transportation.  On the one hand, there are many different  plots of  water in Seattle, which make it impossible to have more  than one freeway through the city (which I think covers about 80+ square miles).  And some years ago  a major set of buildings was built OVER that freeway, so there's no chance of even extending the freeway to more lanes than it has now.  Bus transit is very lacking, and the city is so expensive to  live in now, that people who work in downtown hotels and restaurants and make relatively low wages must live far south or north and thus have to drive in to work.   And on the other hand, city administration refuses to  recognize all of that, and is now allowing developers to build apartment houses without parking for tenants, and is turning parking lanes and car lanes into bicycle lanes (in a city which has many, many hills and  rain at least 9 months a year -- great for bicycling!).  Parking lot owners have jacked up the price of parking basically because they can.  And then downtown merchants wonder why no one wants to come downtown to shop.  

 

I live in a small suburban "village" about 10 miles from downtown Seattle and  have to  go downtown to meetings and events about 10 times a month.  I have to  allot at least an hour to get down and another hour to get back.  And if there's one accident on the freeway, the police shut at least that lane down while they "investigate".  

 

I wish I lived in New York  or London or Boston where people actually PLANNED for transit many years ago.  Most cities on the West Coast are too young to have done so, and transportation is just a f*cking pain.  

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Skycaptain

I live in South East England. As soon as you're out of a town centre or route to a hospital public transport (other than taxis) is almost nonexistent. Some places only have two buses a day, neither of which are any use unless you're travelling at school hours, and don't mind sharing with rowdy kids. 

Where things do differ is that here, even at university, people are actively discouraged from driving, mainly because our, much older, campuses have no parking facilities. 

The degree of open warfare between cyclists and car drivers doesn't help either. 

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Perspektiv

You left out the part, where so many lease their cars, to trade them in, the moment they're no longer trendy. Essentially, for a newer, trendier vehicle, to impress people. Essentially, being strapped to car payments, the remainder of your life. All to give the illusion of having money. Yet, statistics show, that a high percentage of those in middle class, are deep in debt, as a result of their ways.

 

Essentially, if they lost their jobs, they'd be screwed. The success, is only in facade. Like that music artist, using their record label advance to splurge on luxuries, not realizing they have to pay that money back in album sales or owe millions, plus cumulative interest rates. Probably why artists rarely make it back after weak album sales.

 

I loved taking the bus. I don't see anything wrong with it. I still do, whenever I can.

 

I also didn't get those who are okay with driving in rush hour all the time. To me, this is the most dangerous period to drive in. Everyone is in a rush, so you'll see very aggressive lane changes, and tons of fender benders, grinding the already slow commute, to a halt.

 

I usually leave for work a couple hours early, or slightly less. Roads are empty. I take back roads on the way back. But yeah, wasting 30 minutes in rush hour traffic, just to have "freedom", doesn't make sense to me.

 

You'd be better off taking the bus, as they have dedicated lanes (or at least do, in my city).

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Perspektiv

Buying a car new, makes no sense to me either.

Especially considering how rapidly they depreciate.

 

I'd rather get a year or two old vehicle, and get tens of thousands off the sticker price. Buy it outright, and drive it into the ground. I maintain my vehicle meticulously, so can easily get a decade out of one. With the money saved, get another one when it starts costing you more in maintenance, than its worth. Get a reliable car/brand, and you'll be fine.

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Anthracite_Impreza

Driving culture makes perfect sense because cars are awesome and driving is the most fun thing you can do (with or without clothes on). Getting a driving licence and cars (plural) is the only actual goal I've ever had (and still is), and luckily I achieved both before 20 :D

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