Increasingly I think of cars as “externalizing machines”, which explains much of their recent development: every larger, more aggressive, more imposing. It’s about optimizing extraction from the commons: (1/n)
Space: bigger car, more personal space (big upside), less road space around the car (diffuse, a small downside to many), low marginal cost (weak or no price signal in rego in Aus, USA, etc)
Safety: bigger car, more mass, more inertia. Protect occupants (big upside). Higher consequences to other collision participants (externalized and diffuse downside).
Note: also incentivized by ANCAP and similar which rate only occupant safety
Noise: ever louder horns, increased soundproofing. Personal upside: loud horn more threatening to outside parties, less noise inside the car. Diffuse externalization: urban noise, louder emergency service sirens to overcome soundproofing of cars
every individual can be forgiven for wanting to get the most value for their dollar. But these external costs add up. They feed a “cold war” escalation that erodes urban and city safety and amenity. Only two levers to respond: regulation and price. Neither done well