25 Mar 2014

The Impact of Cars on the Health of Individuals

Irene Ma writes:*

The increased demand for cars over the past few decades has had a negative impact on the health of individuals. As people spend more time in their cars they after are not able to engage in healthier modes of transportation such as walking, biking, or taking transit. The more time that is spent driving, especially in rush hour traffic, increases the stress levels of individuals which can potentially have a negative impact on their mental and physical health. This suggests that resources could be allocated more efficiently since driving consumes a large amount of resources when compared to other modes of transportation. In addition to the consumption of resources, driving also has a detrimental effect on the health of others because of the pollution that is emitted by cars.

The solutions for this issue involves several possibilities: a) providing current drivers with discounts on monthly transit passes to change their behaviour, b) providing greater monetary incentives for people to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles to reduce pollution, and c) increasing the cost associated with driving (gas, insurance, and licensing fees) to discourage driving, which can help to reduce overall congestion. The suggested solutions will be effective at changing behaviours, reducing pollution, and improving congestion which can help to enhancing the health of individuals.

Bottom Line: In being able to decrease the amount of time people spend driving will help to improve their health while also reducing both pollution and congestion.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.