The Automobile - Effects / Impact on Society and Changes in Cars Made by Generation

Updated on March 8, 2018

The invention of the automobile has brought more positive and negative effects than any other invention throughout transportation history. As the most widely accepted method of transportation, cars have changed the way people live all over the world. They have affected all aspects of society such as family life, the economy, and even the environment. It is hard to find a movie, book, or TV show that does not have some type of automobile in it. The advancement of automobiles over time has directly affected the advancement of society as a whole. Over the generations automobiles have influenced every aspect of society in many ways and have changed to keep up with the times.

The first mass-produced automobile became publicly available in the 1920’s. “In a world where heading to the grocery store is three miles East and thirty minutes away, the need for improved transportation was in demand” (Elliot 1). With the development of suburbia, cars made it easier for people to travel in this world, which was beginning to spread out at a rapid pace. They quickly gained fame as the new and fast way to travel. In the beginning, automobiles were considered to be a luxury, but as they became more mass produced, more people were able afford them. Changes that were made in the manufacturing process lowered the cost to the point where the average American could own a vehicle. Ford’s main goal with his assembly line was to make sure that the Model T would be available to a majority of the public. His low production cost enabled the final cost of the car to be lowered as well. “Between 1900 and 1920 Americans went from owning 8,000 cars to owning 8,000,000” (Hess 4). This was largely in part because of lowered production costs.

The more widely used automobiles became, the more they began to affect the daily lives of Americans. During this time suburbs were also becoming popular. The automobile played a major role in the spreading out of these suburbs. It heavily influenced family life, and made for a more mobile society. The role of women in society was also affected by the automobile. “The urban housewife of 1925 who could do well without a car was transformed into the suburban housewife of 1960 who required a car to do all her shopping or to pick up the kids after school” (Hess 9). It was unnecessary for women who lived in the city to own cars, because they lived within walking distance of everything that they needed. Growing suburbs meant that women needed a comfortable and fast way of transportation. Women were not just limited to the house anymore. They could escape their normal jobs of the home, and go into the “cultural scene” (Hess 9). Now, women were not limited to their domestic roles any longer. They obtained more gender equality by competing with men for the same types of jobs. Automobiles helped change the role of women in society.

A Family Driving a Model T
A Family Driving a Model T | Source

At the time, cars were the cool new thing to have. However, there were negative effects brought on by the introduction of automobiles. Old fashioned beliefs of family and unity were forgotten. Anyone could escape from their current surrounding and go off on personal endeavors. People became more independent because, “Individual family members could act upon their own wishes, rather than the dictation of the family as a whole” (Elliot 2). As people began to spend more time on the road then in their own homes, business minded individuals such as Ray Kroc took advantage of the situation by opening up fast-food restaurants. Ray Kroc bought a six restaurant chain named McDonalds and opened up the first modern day McDonalds in Des Plaines, IL in 1954. Today, McDonalds is still around, and can be found in many of the world’s countries. The idea of creating a drive-through restaurant was sparked by the popularity of the automobile.

Other modes of transportation had to be pushed aside in order to make room for the more comfortable and convenient automobile. Bicycles, railroads, and horses were among the most affected by the automobile’s sudden popularity in the 20’s. Bicycles were being used since the 1890’s as a more efficient means of transport than walking. Bicycle usage dropped significantly with the invention of the automobile. However, the most widely used method of transportation before the onslaught of automobiles was the horse and carriage. Unfortunately, from 1915-1930, the average farm’s horse population decreased by a third (Young 4). A benefit of getting rid of the horse and carriage system was that the cities became cleaner. Horses used to clutter up the city streets with their foul manure. Now, the streets were manure-free and people thought that the automobile was making their cities cleaner. Another valued method of transportation during this time period was the railroad. Trains were used to transport people and cargo long distances across the country in a short period of time. As soon as automobiles became popular, trains saw a decline in passengers. Because of the automobile, railroad passengers decreased 40% from 1920-1929 (Hess 4). Railroad companies started to overlook the passenger aspect of the railroad, and focused more on the cargo transportation. When airplanes were invented, the railroad became squeezed in the middle. People began to use planes for longer trips and cars for shorter trips. Today, trains are still mainly focused on cargo. The passenger trains of today are equivalent to that of a fast bus with no traffic.

The automobile’s first growth phase ended with one car per family, but the second growth phase ended with about one car per person. During the 60’s there was a 25 million increase in car registrations (Hess 10). Car engineers now focused on making the car more efficient, because the regular A to B car was already invented. A major update added to the options of cars was the air-conditioning. People could now spend hours in their cars on hot days and not have to worry about the heat. The temperature of the car could be changed with the touch of a button, and people enjoyed being able to control this. Car innovators looked for small details of a car that would possible make the passengers feel more comfortable. The more comfortable and suitable the car was to your travel needs, the more popular it was.

During this generation people began to take more pride in their vehicles than ever before. Some people wanted the fastest car and some wanted the prettiest, but all drivers had one thing in common. They used their cars for fun and not just as a tool of transportation (Hess 9). People would pile in cars with all their friends and cruise for half of the night because gas was so cheap. Car enthusiasm became more popular with each passing year. Drivers took pride in the size of their engines, which could be tuned to have more power than a modern day Ferrari.

Drivers weren’t the only people benefiting from automobiles. Automobile manufacturing companies were hiring workers to put together the cars. This created numerous jobs in the U.S. “Employment by firms engaged in motor vehicle and equipment manufacturing peaked in the late 1970’s at approximately one million individuals—twice the employment of 1929” (Hess 9). If cars were non-existent thousands of Americans would be out of work.

America’s landscape was also affected by the automobile. Large trucks were starting to be used in the 60’s for mass transit of goods. Highways and interstates were being paved to allow large numbers of truck and car drivers to arrive at their destinations faster. The Interstate Highway System was formed. Without the automobile these roads and quick ways of transport would not even be around. The Cold War at the time was also a major factor in influencing President Eisenhower to endorse this system. He wanted a faster and more efficient way to travel in cars. Highways were his solution, and they helped in the mass transit of troops quickly around the country. Overpasses are 16 feet high because that was the size needed at the time to allow military vehicles to pass through. However, this major societal change was due largely in part because of the automobile.


Another societal change due to the automobile in this time period was the creation of drive-in movies. People would meet at the nearest movie location, park their cars in front of the huge screen, and watch the movie in comfort. Drive-in theatres became a major hot spot for teenagers, who would take their dates to the movies. Families could pack into the car with their snacks, and watch movies late into the night. While being interviewed about societal changes brought on by cars in his generation, Anonymous 2 said, “Drive-through theatres were one of the greatest places to be on a Friday night. They use to put little sound boxes on each car so that everyone could hear the movie. What better form of entertainment could there be for teenagers with newly acquired licenses? These theatres just added to the fun of owning your own car” (Anonymous interview 2). Even entertainment was brought to a new level with the help of the automobile.

Currently, cars still dominate when it comes to the most popular form of transportation. They have become essential to the functioning of people in everyday life. The average family has at least one car and spends more on transportation than on food (Young 232). The automobile sector accounts for 10% of the employment in the U.S. (Politics and Society 1). Especially today, with rising gas prices, people are finding it more economically beneficial to take public transportation instead of using their own personal automobile. Everyone would rather travel in the comfort of their own vehicle, but sometimes the costs of doing this are too great for the people that are struggling financially. Many people have to commute long distances to their job every morning, but they don’t have enough money to pay for the gas. While being interviewed about what future cars will be like, Anonymous 3 said, “I don’t know, but I hope that someone will invent a car that runs on water, because then we wouldn’t have to pay so much for gas” (Anonymous Interview 3). Gas prices are a major issue in America today, and without the automobile, there would be no problem.

With modern advances such as digital television and the internet, people are finding that they do not even need to leave their homes for entertainment. What’s the point of going to Blockbuster if movies are available for rent On Demand on your own home television? This takes away the necessity of the automobile in going to the rental store. Some people are even able to do all of their shopping, banking, and working all on their home computers, which eliminates the automobile from day-to-day usage. As society becomes more technologically advanced, people are finding more reasons to stay at home, instead of going out whenever they have errands or want to do something fun. In a recent interview, a person said, “I don’t know if I can live in a world with no cars" (Anonymous). However, automobiles are still widely used by most people, and will continue to be used as long as people have a need for transportation.

Buckle Up
Buckle Up | Source

Today’s engineers seem to focus more on the safety aspect of the car instead of it’s features. As cars become more advanced, the means by which humans are kept protected must advance as well. For example laws were passed that forbid people from not wearing a seat-belt. “Safety belts saved more than 12,000 American lives in 2001. Yet, during that same year, nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes were unrestrained” (The Facts to Buckle up America 1). Also, new inventions such as the airbag and in-car sensors protect not only the passengers, but whatever or whoever may be near the car on the outside. These inventions all came about because they are demanded by our current car buying market. As the world becomes a more populated place, parents want safe vehicles to transport their children in. Automobile manufacturers began to realize that if they wanted to sell their cars, they would have to find new innovative ways of protecting passengers from the dangers of the road. They are coming up with new safety features in order to stay ahead of the industry.

New types of vehicles aside from the typical sedan or coupe are becoming more popular in today’s market. In the 90’s, the SUV, or Sport Utility Vehicle, became and remains to be popular. SUVs allow for more people and belongings to be driven in the same vehicle comfortably. Large families buy large vans and SUV’s because of the extra room that is provided for children and belongings. As convenient as they are, do not be fooled into thinking that there are no negatives. Larger vehicles typically burn more gas because of their size. Therefore, it cost’s more money to fill up an SUV than it does a regular car. The extra burning of gasoline is dangerous to our environment. However, most types of cars harm the environment.

People are starting to realize that Global Warming is a real issue that needs to be dealt with. Pollution is causing this and it can permanently damage the face of the Earth. Pollution is a major environmental problem caused mostly by automobiles. The burning of fuels creates toxic emissions. Many Americans do not experience the horrible results of pollution that other poorer countries face in urban environments. Congress passed laws that minimized the standard for automobile pollution. There are laws preventing unnecessary pollution in the U.S., but other countries do not have these laws. That is why many major U.S. companies build their factories in other countries where they don’t have to worry about spending money on environmentally safe equipment. “Studies made in Jaipur, India, indicate that there is high rate of occurrence of respiratory, digestive, ocular and skin problems amongst the traffic policemen and a significant number of them become victims of lung disorders in the very first few months of their posting to a traffic department” (Sinha 1). This is because day after day they are exposed to the toxic emissions from cars in an urban area. Today, many new types of eco-friendly vehicles are being invented to slow the process of global warming. These cars are able to run on something other than gasoline. Examples of new types of cars are electric, fuel cell, solar powered, hybrids, and ethanol. There has even been talk of a car that runs on water. Hybrids are currently becoming more popular. More and more people are buying hybrids, because they want to save money on gasoline. Hybrids save fuel by using both gasoline and electricity to run the car. People have realized that using alternative fuels will help to conserve our world’s natural resources and also limit the bad effects on the environment. This could help prevent the current problems regarding global warming and all of the bad effects that come with it. With rising gas prices, even people that don’t care so much about the environment are starting to switch their cars in order to save money. Think of how much money would be saved if people did not have to fill their cars up with gas every week.

Automobiles are a symbol of personal growth and development. When a young person reaches the age of sixteen in the U.S., they will most likely obtain a license, which will enable them to drive a car. Teens look forward to receiving a license because it is an opportunity for more freedom. They can now go places and not have to worry about catching a ride with somebody. But, having a license also comes with responsibilities such as driving safe and following the rules of the road. Many people are killed every year because of teenage drunk drivers that aren’t responsible enough to have their licenses. Now, the government is putting more restrictions and limitations on the laws regarding driving and licenses. Last year, for example, the driving time requirements in IL for obtaining a license changed from 25 hours of behind the wheel practice to 50 hours. These steps are being taken in order to ensure that teens are better drivers, and make better choices when it comes to getting behind the wheel. Owning an automobile and getting a license has now become a rite of passage for teenagers. Automobiles have even helped spark societal traditions.

The automobile has affected this country more than any other invention of its time. It must adapt to whatever is going on in the world at the time and keep up with future innovations. With the coming of each new year, cars are becoming quicker, more luxurious, and more environmentally safe. It is predicted that their will be a billion cars on the road by 2025 (Kruger 252). The invention of the automobile opened up doors to new inventions. It allowed for people to worry less about making it to dinner on time, and worry more about the actual dinner. People can travel faster in automobiles and feel more comfortable at the same time. Automobiles were and continue to be the main source of transportation not only for Americans, but for everyone on Earth. They will continue to influence every part of our economy. Without automobiles, life as we know it would not be the same, and the changes that they have brought upon the earth can be seen in every aspect of society.

Works Cited

Elliot, Sam. “The Roaring 1920’s: The Effects of the Automobile on American Life.” Associated Content 6 December 2006 1-2. 11 March 2008. <>.

Hess, Kenneth. “The Growth of Automotive Transportation.” 9 June 1996. 11 March 2008 <>.

Kruger, Anna. “Transportation, Communications, and Industry.” Visual Encyclopedia.1st ed. 1995.

"Politics and Society." The Automobile Industry. Spring 2007. BMW. 3 Apr 2008 <>.

Sinha, Rajiv. "Automobile Pollution in India and its human impact." SpringerLink. 31 July 2003. 3 Apr 2008


“Anonymous Interview 1.” Automobile Interviews (2008).

"Anonymous Interview 2." Automobile Interviews (2008).

“Anonymous Interview 3.” Automobile Interviews (2008).

"The Facts to Buckle up America." U.S. Department of Transportation. March 2003. U.S. Department of Transportation. 3 Apr 2008


Young, William. The 1930’s. 1st, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Jordan 5 days ago

      Not awful

    • profile image

      Thanks even though I didn't read it! XD 13 days ago

      um yea I didn't read It but I found some helpful Paragraphs, and I used it for my source for my research project lol, good thing I didn't read it since ppl said it made them fail, but so far THX I NEEDED IT!!!!!!

    • profile image

      ********** 2 weeks ago

      no help needs more info.


    • profile image

      Really? 4 weeks ago

      This made me fail my essay

    • profile image

      a person 2.0 4 weeks ago

      thank you this helped out a lot

    • profile image

      Mr. Man 4 weeks ago

      Helped me on schoolwork.

    • profile image

      tahnk u very mucho 5 weeks ago

      tank u

    • profile image

      A PERSON 7 weeks ago

      IT HELPED me on my project :-)

    • profile image

      thanks 2 months ago

      it helped for my research project

    • profile image

      Cassidy Lawrence 2 months ago

      Thanks I needed this for my Advanced social studies project that covers almost all my grade

    • profile image

      big wet fart 2 months ago

      all stupid

    • profile image

      arctic cat 3 months ago

      Good stuff

    • profile image

      freekodak 3 months ago

      this article sucks i tried to use this as a source but the information was terrible

    • profile image

      Christina allian 3 months ago

      I have an essay to do in schools about an invention and I chose cars this helped so much thank u

    • profile image

      mrs.pickle 4 months ago

      thanks this helps a lot , i need it for my essay

    • profile image

      Monique Hough 4 months ago

      I looked on this website so i can get information about cars and this site did not help to well any other sites you would prefer but interesting facts.

      - I'm a sixth grader not adult if you want to know or care.

    • profile image

      Sad person 4 months ago

      Made me need to make an essay

    • profile image

      bruh 6 months ago

      this didnt help at all

    • profile image

      21 savage 6 months ago


    • profile image

      fart 6 months ago

      all fake

    • profile image

      abby heaston 8 months ago


    • profile image

      Zavierwalker 8 months ago

      fyi cars are awsome

    • profile image

      TacoPanduh 9 months ago

      Shut up know one cares

    • profile image

      yahmeillaaa23 10 months ago

      your works cited is wrong buddy

    • profile image

      Joaquín 11 months ago

      Im a peruvian guy and like your aweasome work :v

    • profile image

      Danah 11 months ago

      I need to know how ford model can improve for customer's lifestyle?

    • profile image

      Meaghan 11 months ago

      This information helped a lot with one of my Global Studies 10 essays.

    • profile image

      FireFox 13 months ago

      Amazing. This really made me think about cars and how they have made my life so much easier. If its going to the store or driving to a friends house its impacted my life so much and i realize that now thanks to you. Thank you.

    • profile image

      John Cena 14 months ago

      Thanks my dude

    • profile image

      Nitro Cod 14 months ago

      Thanks broskey! This helped a lot!

    • profile image

      Claystar21 14 months ago

      I love this site! Thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      SunshineToday 15 months ago

      thanks for the idea

    • profile image

      Nate Knecht 18 months ago

      This website is dankilicious

    • profile image

      carlingtonlaws 18 months ago


    • profile image

      dom 20 months ago


    • profile image

      jps 3 years ago

      Nice i just dont know how to cite this paper

    • profile image

      alex baley 3 years ago

      good i have a 7 of 7.

    • profile image

      lovergirl16 4 years ago

      you're a gifted writer. Congrats on the award. Hub on!!!

    • profile image

      wolfgirl16 4 years ago

      Great hub...You list very good details...Congrats and write on

    • profile image

      ki 4 years ago


    • profile image

      Cotton Bags 6 years ago

      Great reading, thanks! Sometimes I just happen to stumble over info that arrives in a timely manner. Spot on ;-)

    • profile image

      sakshi 6 years ago

      good article

    • Reves-diary profile image

      Reve 6 years ago from Dhaka

      Inclusion of automobile industry did create some positives and negatives on our social life. If you think about transport system, this industry has made tremendous spark as people are now getting chance of reaching a destination within their schedule time. If you think about negative aspect, it has brought pollution in a great deal and made some modifications that have been fruitful for none of us.

      Thanks for your awesome hub :)

    • profile image

      cuteangel 6 years ago

      its nice to know ................every generation has changes about our transportations................?

    • scott33thomas profile image

      Manuel Porras 6 years ago from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain

      I love history and know about cars

    • profile image

      limousine hire melbourne 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Great hub by the way!

    • mikecoder profile image

      mikecoder 7 years ago from Maryland

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I have enjoyed your hub and I love the way you write. I have just published my 52nd hub about driving traffic to your content.


      Do enjoy it and leave a comment. I'm following you already.

    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks Deborah!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. This is a very well written and well planned hub. As ripplemaker said, it made me think about the impact in my own life. I look forward to reading more of your work.


    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 7 years ago from USA

      Thank you very much ripplemaker! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Your hub made me ponder about the effects of automobile in my personal life. Thank you! I realized that I do find it very convenient to drive to work and home than take the public transportation. I recognize that when lackof parking space occur, pollution and global warming and the gas increase, all these things really affect us one way or the other. But at the end of the day, boy, I still feel grateful.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Follow this link and read and vote!

    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks for commenting !

    • profile image

      SunshineToday 7 years ago

      The relationship between society and automobiles is an on-going interest of mine. Thanks for sharing this hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)