Monday, May 25, 2009

Warning: Driving is Hazardous to Your Health

A British MP, Colin Challen, proposes that warning labels be put on cars like they've done with cigarette packs. It's a good reminder, but I'm not sure warnings actually affect behaviour. I'd guess any decrease in smoking we've seen has more to do with the smaller and smaller areas permitting smoking than the black lungs on the box. I do like, however, the label's clarification of each vehicle's true environmental impact.

When I took my dog to puppy school, they always told us to tell the dog what to do, not what not to do: "down" or "on the floor" rather than "stop licking my dinner plate." It works with little kids too. Instead of warning them not to touch the candy at the checkout, I'd tell them to keep their hands on their bellies. It directed the focus elsewhere. So instead of warnings against cars, which we all know are problematic in so many ways, we need to focus people on biking and walking and public transportation. Clever ads with people walking or biking everywhere might help redirect us.

And if mainstream movies got on board, think of the impact. The French Connection with a bike chase? Okay, it won't always work. But when the 40-year-old virgin decides to grow up, get a girlfriend, get rid of his action figures, and learn to drive a car, it doesn't help the cause. Why didn't Catherine Keener take up cycling instead? Isn't love a two-way street - with bike lanes?

Watch how hazardous driving can be:

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