To its critics, the automobile is a voracious consumer of irreplaceable energy resources, a leading polluter of the environment, and a destroyer of cohesive communities. The most outspoken opponents call for greater regulations and restrictions to ultimately replace the automobile as the country's primary means of transportation. But their proposals all ignore one simple fact: Americans love their cars! Millions of citizens have made the automobile the most successful method of mass transportation ever developed, and they are not about to give up the personal mobility it offers. This book presents the controversial view that, for the vast majority of Americans, the automobile is not the problem, but the solution to transportation needs. While acknowledging the automobile's significant drawbacks, the author refutes much of the shrill rhetoric and doomsday predictions of its opponents. He takes a skeptical look at the major policy initiatives to tax, regulate, and provide alternatives to the automobile, pointing out that any policies designed to remove Americans from their cars without offering them a superior means of mobility are "worse than useless" and doomed to failure. The book offers suggestions and guidelines for politically realistic initiatives that preserve the benefits of the automobile while building public support for policies that will reduce its negative effects on energy use and the environment.
James A. Dunn Jr. is professor of political science and public administration at Rutgers University-Camden. He was a member of the U.S. research team on MIT's International Automobile Program and he served as chairman of the South Jersey Transit Advisory Committee. He is the author of Miles To Go: European and American Transportation Policies (MIT, 1981).