Love Affair May Be Over…
love affair with the car may be headed for divorce court. The Pew
Research Center did a study recently that says the number of people
who still enjoy going for a drive has dropped from eight out of
ten back in 1990 to just under seven out of ten today. Inescapable
traffic and over-the-top enforcement of technical foul
traffic laws are probably among the reasons why.
the joy of driving. What good is a 400 horsepower car when its
difficult if not altogether impossible impossible to drive it much
faster than 80 MPH?
meanwhile, has made it feloniously illegal to drive it faster than
about 80 MPH even if its physically possible to do
so. The repercussions are so extreme reckless driving
cite, the threat of jail time, loss of license, thousands of dollars
in fines and legal bills that most people quite understandably
are hesitant to explore the capabilities of their vehicles. And
those who are willing to take the risk inevitably pay the price
and are culled from the herd.
drive slow in cars built to go very fast a form of torture
unique to our time.
Cars have never
been more powerful, capable and safe even at very high speeds
than they are right now. The lowliest 2012 model economy
car is fully capable of well over 100 MPH on top some will do 120.
Middle-of-the-road family sedans like the Toyota Camry and Honda
Accord have top speeds around 140 MPH and will effortlessly
cruise all day long at 100-plus MPH.
If you dare.
a V-8 or even a V-6 is grossly over-powered for American
driving. Not for American roads, though: The Interstates
were designed for very high speeds (70-75 MPH, assuming 1950s-era
car technology) and so could surely handle average speeds in the
range of 80-90 MPH today, assuming modern cars. But excepting
a few rural areas of Texas, anything over 70-75 is illegal speeding.
Over 80 (just one 1 MPH over) in many states is statutory
reckless driving, as discussed above. They can and sometimes
do arrest you on the spot. At the very least, youll
be issued a serious ticket with a mandatory court appearance (no
just sending in a fine) and the very real possibility of life-altering
repercussions such as paying extortionate rates for your mandatory
insurance coverage (so called SR-22? coverage) that can be
as high as $2,000 per year. Over the five years that thing
the record of your conviction for reckless driving
will be on your DMV rap sheet, you could be looking at $10,000 in
insurance bills for one bust at 81 MPH. Granted, that doesnt
happen often but the fact is, under the laws in most states,
it absolutely could. Over 90 and you can bet on it. Which
means we might as well be driving cars with the capability of a
circa 1985 Ford Taurus.
got is a situation not unlike taking a fat guy to a candy store
and then telling him he cant eat anything or if he
does, hell be punished. The fat guy has the Hobsons
choice of sticking around to be tortured by temptation or
saying the hell with this and leaving the store.
appear to be doing more or less the same thing: Theyre certainly
not in love with their cars as they once were. In particular, the
very young. A recent article discussed this development. Teens and
young 20-somethings are less interested in cars as other-than-appliances
than any generation preceding. Many of them just dont care.
Theyll buy a car, if they absolutely must. But theyre
not champing at the bit to and dont really care much
which car it is, so long as it gets them from A to B.
the rest of the article
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
Best of Eric Peters