It is only a matter of time before we are all victimized by vehicles | The Triangle

It is only a matter of time before we are all victimized by vehicles

Photo by Dylan Elwell | The Triangle

Being an out-of-state student, I assumed the biggest adjustment to the Drexel experience would have been the weather, hence I overpacked my luggage with an exorbitant amount of coats and sweaters. However, nothing could have prepared me for the state of driving around campus, in all its rashness and impatience. I remember how absolutely offended I was the first time I got ambushed by a blue minivan, and thought about how the minivans from my suburb certainly did not conduct themselves in that manner. Nearly two years later, being nearly run over is a daily occurrence that leaves me relatively unfazed. 

Growing up in California, I always overheard people lamenting  how everyone was too cautious in Northern California, and too rash in Southern California. Road rage incidents were far and few between, and usually involving minor traffic violations or unnecessarily slow driving. So I rationalized the state of driving at Drexel to be an urban versus suburban issue, and thus understandable. Upon further reflection, I was shocked to realize that I was more likely to be victimized by a vehicle around campus, than when I was visiting New Delhi as an elementary schooler.

Additionally, studies have shown that Philadelphia continuously ranks as one of the worst American cities to drive in, ranking near the bottom in 95th overall out of 100 American cities in 2023. The ranking took into consideration safety, traffic and infrastructure, access to vehicles and maintenance and cost of ownership and maintenance. By this research, I should have been more than accustomed to being victimized daily at Drexel, but I never felt victimized back in California. One reason for the overall rankings could be that given the high cost of living in California, Los Angeles (97th), San Francisco (99th) and Oakland (100th) all rank as cities with the highest cost of ownership and maintenance, while Philadelphia ranks significantly lower (77th). This could explain the relatively worse ranking of these Californian cities. 

Why does Philadelphia seem to have such a poor standard of driving? While it has not been established, I personally feel it is a combination of high  traffic volume and poor infrastructure, namely that the roads have not been updated to accommodate for the sheer amount of vehicles utilizing them. In a historic city, roadways are narrow and while driving at high speeds, cars may be forced to make extremely sharp turns, leaving both pedestrians and drivers in a pickle. Some folks cite particular attitude predicaments of drivers to account for the all-encompassing issue, but I feel that without taking into consideration the other factors listed above, this is an unfair sentiment. 

While being victimized by bad drivers is never an enjoyable experience, I believe some level of understanding of the systemic problems (older roads, traffic, sheer car volume) is important. I will continue to stand an unnecessary distance away from the edge of the sidewalk for my own sanity.