Automobiles and the American Way of Life


Whether going to work, shopping or visiting friends and family, having a car gives you the freedom and convenience to travel anywhere you want. The car can also save you a lot of time that would otherwise be spent waiting for buses or trains to arrive. A car can also help reduce stress and make traveling with children or pets easier.

Perhaps no invention influenced the American economy in the twentieth century more than the automobile. From a business standpoint, it revolutionized manufacturing techniques, introduced the assembly line and helped the United States develop the world’s most comprehensive distribution system for consumer goods. It brought new jobs in industries such as petroleum and gas, steel and rubber, and services like motels, restaurants, and convenience stores. It changed daily life in the United States by giving individuals unprecedented personal freedom of movement and by fostering leisure activities such as camping and vacations.

The automobile has also had many social impacts, as it encouraged families to rediscover pristine landscapes in rural areas and gave teenagers the independence to explore towns and cities. It has facilitated new relationships by allowing couples to visit each other without leaving home and by enabling dating. And it has contributed to the development of a new type of cuisine, the roadside diner, serving hamburgers, french fries, milk shakes and apple pies, all designed for speedy service to busy drivers.

The automobile has also brought negative impacts on the environment, causing air pollution and draining dwindling world oil reserves. And for most Americans, the freedom to travel at their own pace has been compromised by high vehicle ownership costs, traffic congestion and the growing need for safety features and government regulations.