Almost nobody can imagine living without modern vehicles. They have drastically reduced our workloads and increased our physical reach in the world. The history of transportation is part of our constant endeavor to innovate. The need to cover long distances in a minimum amount of time is a necessity for us.
Our relationship with transportation started when we domesticated animals and started using them for transportation. As we progressed through time, we discovered steam engines were more efficient and faster, making the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the evolution of modern vehicles.
However, with the development of steam engines, the importance of fuel also came into the picture. How to create steam that powers the steam engine was a big question. While coal was the obvious answer to the problem, it also created problems of its own. Coal is a non-renewable resource that creates a lot of smoke and pollution bad enough to create dense smog.
At the same time, the race to find a replacement for whale oil for lighting resulted in the ability to methodically explore and extract crude oil. Crude oil provided the means to make gasoline and diesel fuels to power stationary machines for manufacturing as well as the newly invented automobiles. The recent harnessing of electric power also allowed for automobiles to be powered by electricity.
Cars and roads continued their development over the early half of the 20th century. The popularity of the Ford Model T, in particular, led the way. But in the 1950s the post war desire for freedom of movement led to the construction of the interstate highway system and a boom of striking and affordable cars for the first time since the Depression and World War II. Car culture was born, and the nation has not looked back.
However, the nation is looking forward with a deep consideration for the advancements and challenges car culture has presented. Better fuels and vehicles are being designed to reduce the impact of transportation on the environment, and communities and the built environment are being revised for better and wider transportation options.
Our own transportation habits are also being examined with an eye to conservation, and our role in saving energy. The vehicle we choose and how we drive that vehicle affect fuel use, transportation costs, and environmental impacts. Whether we are commuting long distances or making short trips around town, our driving choices and actions matter.
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