Have you calculated both the direct and indirect costs of owning and driving your car? Have you assessed that total as a portion of your income?
The truth is, although gas is often the only cost we consider when it comes to driving, it is a fraction of our driving related expenses. Cars are expensive, both in the costs that directly affect our individual pocketbook, and the indirect costs that are distributed throughout the population and are therefore easier to ignore.
For instance, in the U.S., motor vehicle related injuries kill more children and young adults than any other single cause of death. The costs of all of those car related accidents and injuries totals to more than $150 billion in the U.S. each year.
Not only does driving have implications for human safety, but also human health. Nationwide, motor vehicles are the leading contributor to air toxics. These pollutants exact a significant physical and financial toll on human health.
According to the 2007 Consumer Expenditure Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average citizen in the Western U.S. spends $9161 per year on car-related transportation. This is 3x as much healthcare, 3x as much as entertainment, 4x as much as clothing, 9x as much as education, $2000 more than food, and nearly as much as shelter. And to think, so many of us have other options—like transit, biking, and walking- that would reduce this cost, allowing us to spend more dollars elsewhere. So, imagine your life without your “money pit” of a car, and consider making a change in your commute.
Direct Costs of Driving:
Purchase costs, depreciation, insurance costs, license fees and tags, finance charges, gas and oil, maintenance and repairs, parking fees and tolls, traffic/parking fines, extra items for vehicle.
Indirect Costs of Driving:
Gasoline tax (highway maintenance), sales/property tax (arterial road maintenance), tax benefits/subsidies to oil companies, traffic policing and emergency services, accidents, effects of air and water pollution, not-so-free parking costs captured in the cost of goods/services, time in traffic.