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When you look at the risks associated with driving, it’s hard to understand why people do it. Tens of thousands of people die in car accidents every year, and many more are injured. Is it actually worth it to use this means of transportation?

However, the automobile has a very central place in American identity, despite the sheer amount of lives that it takes. Researchers note that, historically speaking, this often revolved around sight-seeing and driving for pleasure. Cars gave people the chance to travel in comfort and see the country, something they had never had before. They embraced this and it continues to this day.

Part of the reason is also independence. Before bicycles and cars became popular, many people felt stuck using the railroads, which forced them to pay high fees and ride on a set schedule. They didn’t like it, but they had no options. When cars came along, people felt like they finally had the freedom of movement that they always wanted.

The fact that all of this happened while much of America was still being developed meant that the country was built with cars in mind. You have things like interstate highway systems and urban sprawl. These days, even with the risks, people often feel that they have no choice but to drive. There is no other way to get to work, to school or to the store. While those in cities often have moderate public transportation, many people really have no other options.

If you drive regularly, you need to understand that you’re taking a very real risk, and you may need to seek financial compensation if you get injured in an accident.