Sunday, 13 May 2012

Don't dial AA

Automobiles AnonymousHow do you talk to a car addict?

Yes, to clarify this up front, the disclaimer: some people truly need a car. In fact a long-term health problem or disability prevented  9% from walking, 6% from using buses and 16% from cycling (Source: DfmmT Climate Change and Transport Choices December 2010). Conditions like these are of course entirely different to wantonly over-using your car. Goes without saying.

Let's start again.

How do you talk to a car addict?

Ask them to get off their car? Out of their car? Cut down on short journeys? Get on the "road to recovery" by taking up walking, cycling and public transport? Give them good reasons why, social, environmental, economic, you name it? Provide little teasers for a better life, promotion and free training?

Here's the truth.

Motoring addicts have cloth ears strung to woolly minds. You cannot force a person to truly get better, get out of their beloved car, see the light and understand the bigger picture. They cannot hear. They won't listen. Only they alone have the power to change. And as their demon give them a feeling of power, control and comfort they needn't change. Lynn Sloman suggests 25% of our population are hooked on this Class A drug, the Automobile, for life, heaven or hell.

You can say all kinds of things to them if they ain't ready, they ain't ready. If the wool's firmly pulled over their eyes, nice and cosy, warm and comfortable, if they haven’t yet experienced deep enough pain from their addiction*, they won't see. Your words won’t find a crack in their hard-shell defensive armour. Dare you reach out and touch it.

Their addicted minds have plenty of ammunition to shoot back at you. Physically, it can kill. Road rage. They also have verbal defences, and excuses, a way of thinking that suspends law of physics, logic and 'common sense', a sense of self-centered survival, blaming the other, plenty of emotional pain, and possibly - like all of us - a few real gripes about the universe, life and everything, however woven into the complexity of well-oiled government-supported car addiction.

(S)mothering the motorist. They are more comfortable being where they are than seeing the cross-roads we are on. Call Automobiles Anonymous now. Don't dial AA. Confused? The intervention expert DfmmT is high on Class A at the moment and in no fit state to respond.

So. How DO you talk to a car addict?

You can't.


Simply show you care through your behaviour - Act with kindness and compassion. This can be the magical ingredient to successful interaction with an addicted motorist. And set boundaries, a form of intervention, with confidence.

Get some help and support for yourself if you have seen motoring madness - Join your local cycling campaign, campaign for a better neighbourhood and public transport, participate in initiatives for people-friendly streets.

Take comfort in Lynn Sloman's words and research. Know that 75% are ready to change, or have changed.

* currently Gov's their dealer and pimp and keeps them on their stuff

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