What Are the Disadvantages of Driving a Car?

by Erik Devaney
itstillruns article image
bridge traffic image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com

The automobile rose to prominence during the 20th century and is now a staple of personal transportation. While driving a car is a convenient, generally fast and often fun way of getting from one place to another, it also has several disadvantages when compared to other modes of transport, such as public transportation, bicycling and walking.


Driving a car contributes significantly to air pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of all greenhouse gases released into the environment, and vehicles "used primarily for personal transport account for 62 percent of total transportation emissions." The agency lists cars as major contributors of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, among other pollutants.


Purchasing a new car can be a substantial investment, and often requires taking out a loan, sometimes at high interest. You can reduce ownership costs by purchasing an inexpensive used car, but a number of costs are unavoidable, including fuel and maintenance costs. According to Insure.com, another unavoidable cost is automobile liability insurance. All but three states---New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Florida---require carrying insurance.

Safety Issues

Despite safety advancements such as seat belts and airbags, cars remain more dangerous than other major modes of transportation, including travel by air, bus and train. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia, nearly 40,000 people die each year in car crashes. In addition, people are injured and killed in non-crash related car accidents: trapped in trunks or other compartments during hot weather; strangled by power sunroofs or windows; and suffocated by carbon monoxide released into the car.


An especially annoying disadvantage of driving a car is traffic. Traffic can make you late for important events and business meetings, and cause you to burn extra fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are seven common causes of traffic: physical bottlenecks (too many cars, not enough lanes), road accidents, work zones, inclement weather, inefficient traffic signals, special events (such as a concert or sporting event) and daily fluctuations in the flow of cars (such as morning and evening commutes).

Operating Requirements

Driving places burdens on the car operator that don't exist with other modes of transportation. Obtaining a license requires training and testing, costing time and money. In addition, operating a car safely requires alertness and sobriety. This can make driving a car dangerous or illegal when exhausted or after consumption of alcohol or drugs, including many prescription drugs.

More Articles

article divider