12 Ways Driving Is Subsidized by Law

How can we change to be more supportive of active transportation?

One of my biggest frustrations with living in America is how we are almost forced to be reliant on cars. Our cities and towns are built to make driving necessary, and our laws are set up to directly encourage and subsidize driving at the expense of other ways of getting around.

Streetsblog recently posted an article highlighting 12 ways that driving is both encouraged and subsidized by the law:

  1. Traffic Laws Soft-Peddle Very Dangerous Behavior

  2. Land Use Laws Favor Sprawl

  3. Legal Parking Requirements Subsidize Driving

  4. Emissions Laws Exempt ‘Light Trucks’

  5. Emissions Laws Ignore the Environmental Costs of Roadbuilding

  6. Vehicle Safety Regulations Ignore Pedestrians

  7. Vehicle Safety Regulations Allow Unsafe Aftermarket Vehicle Modifications

  8. Insurance Law Limits Payouts to Pedestrians

  9. Tax Law Subsidizes Sprawl

  10. Tort Law Protects Dangerous Drivers

  11. Contract Law Freezes Out Pedestrians

  12. Criminal Law Rarely Punishes Dangerous Drivers


Considering that almost all Americans drive regularly to the point where it is habit and doesn’t earn a second thought, it is hard to get people to accept the fact that these laws can be changed and probably should be. Politicians are too afraid to lose support from drivers that they rarely consider to make changes that make driving reflect the harm it does to our cities, towns, and personal health.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are needlessly being killed every year due to dangerous road design, laws that encourage bad behavior, and the lack of enforcement for the safety laws we do have in place.

We should all be working towards finding a way to make our country safer for pedestrians, bikers, transit riders, and adapt our laws to focus on safety, health, and encourage sustainable transport.