Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Stopping the traffic

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 11 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b493
  1. Ian Roberts, professor of public health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  1. Ian.Roberts{at}

    Two books about cars and our relationship with them do not quite pass the test of scientific rigour, Ian Roberts decides

    Books, like wine, have to be devoured before you can judge them properly, and before you start you have nothing to go on but their packaging. The covers of these books (unsurprisingly) feature cars. The title Autophobia made me suspicious. After all, phobias are irrational fears, but cars do kill on a daily basis. The book’s back cover shows its author, Brian Ladd, leaning nonchalantly out of a car window; being a career long auto sceptic made me even more wary of this image. My suspicions were confirmed.

    True, Brian Ladd has written a well researched and modestly interesting history of “our love-hate relationship with the automobile.” However, what the book lacks is any overall evaluation of the benefits and harms. Is the private passenger car a good way to get about our …

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