The first major impact that automobiles had on American society was the improvement of the transport system. Before the invention of the automobiles, transport used to be a major problem and people could not easily travel long distances (Cross & Szostak, 2005). People used to rely on horses to travel on extended journeys. This was an unreliable means of transport, as a horse could easily tire before the end of the journey. Traveling from New York to Washington D.C. could even take a full week, but with the invention of the automobile, that time was shortened. A student studying in New York could drive to Washington D.C. to see their parents and then drive back to college in a span of seven hours. This means that if the student did not stop on the way, it would take three hours to drive to Washington D.C., spending an hour with their parents, and then driving back to New York in three hours.
Automobiles have also improved the economy of America. According to Berger (2001), the rate at which goods and services are transacted greatly determines the GDP of a nation. In contemporary American society, the use of automobiles to transport all sorts of commodities from one place to another is widely employed. Traders can traverse most parts of the country within a short time in search of markets for their goods, having the courtesy of automobiles. Apart from that, many jobs have been created, ranging from road construction, car mechanics, to professional driving.
Automobiles have also improved the social life of Americans in general. A person can visit a friend staying far away as many times as they wish. A group of young people from New Orleans can attend a live football match in Arizona to go and cheer for their team by driving there. Automobiles have also improved the education and health sectors in America (Berger, 2001). A victim at an accident scene can be saved from dying by paramedics.
As much as automobiles have improved the lives of Americans, they also have negative effects. Many Americans have become so dependent on cars that they cannot walk or use a bicycle anymore (Berger, 2001). Automobiles also encourage most acts of criminal behavior. Thieves and terrorists find it easy to commit their respective crimes by use of speedy automobiles. A murderer can follow their victim by using a car until reaching where there are no people and then strike. Automobiles also encourage immoral acts like infidelity among married couples. A married man or woman can drive to a far destination to visit someone to have an affair with, and then come back home to their partner in marriage.
Automobiles have a great impact on American society. They have improved the lives of American people both socially and economically. Travel time and expenses have been reduced to the advantage of the user. Business operators transact their goods faster and more easily than before. Although they have many positive effects, automobiles also encourage laziness, criminal activities, and immorality.
Berger, M. (2001). The automobile in American history and culture: A reference guide. NJ: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Cross, G. & Szostak, R. (2005). Technology and American society: A history. NJ: Prentice Hall.