Other Impacts of Driving
When you think of pollution from cars, the first thing that comes to mind is noxious fumes. But the problems don’t stop with air pollution. The environmental consequences associate with cars are much wider.
Runoff of oil, automotive fluids, and roadway chemicals are estimated at hundreds of thousands of tons per year, and are considered the leading source of impairment to rivers. In addition, hundreds of thousands of potential leaks from underground fuel storage tanks threaten groundwater, and improperly disposed of used motor oil ends up in waterways.
Noise from car traffic, and loud car stereos and alarms, has become so ubiquitous that we barely notice it anymore—but it’s taking its toll. Recent census data indicates that 1 in 8 American households suffer from bothersome noise from the street or traffic. Problems related to noise include hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, sleep loss, distraction, and lost productivity, and a general reduction in the quality of life and opportunities for tranquility.
Over 10 million automobiles are scrapped every year, creating approximately seven billion pounds of un-recycled scrap and waste every year. Approximately 800 million tires are stockpiled in dumps around the country, creating a serious fire hazard and an ongoing environmental hazard. Every tire loses one pound of rubber per year, spewing minute grains of rubber into the atmosphere and back down into the water supply and human lungs.
The Humane Society estimates that around one million animals die on U.S. roads every day.
Air and water pollution from vehicles compromises the growth, reproduction and overall health of plants, which are susceptible to disease, pests, and environmental stress. It reduces agricultural yields for many economically important crops, such as soybean, wheat, and cotton.
The Built Environment
During the last century, an area roughly equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania was paved in the United States—requiring maintenance costs of over $200 million a day and trapping us in large, sprawling and undesirable concrete jungles. Approximately one-third of an average city’s land is devoted to roads and other car-related elements. Interstate highways cut through and divide countless neighborhoods, mostly in poor sections, taking homes and destroying businesses.
We add more and more roads, encouraging wider use of private cars and ever-increasing traffic congestion.