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OPINION: Do Muscle Cars Really Lead To Road Violence??

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OPINION: Do Muscle Cars Really Lead To Road Violence??

By Dave Ashton

While I was performing my usual sifting through the media for gems of muscle car news, I came across an interesting post on ‘Road Violence.’ The first bit of rhetoric I read seemed like a genuine concern for road safety. However, as night follows day, muscle cars as a niche seemed to be the bull’s-eye or figurehead of the debate. Hmmm……

The articles in question are over at (links to the articles at the bottom of this page). The post on traffic violence and why do we need to talk about it, seems to point the finger at not only car owners, but also the planners and designers of the whole highway system. In other words, the vehicles and the whole infrastructure needs to be scrutinized to make them as safe as possible. A fair point that most wouldn’t disagree with.

However, the article that really tweaked my onions was the one concerning, ‘Muscle-Car Makers Market Mayhem.’ It basically outlines how the Dodge Charger advertises its vehicles with the aim of road recklessness. The article starts with how a 20-year-old woman in Brooklyn was run down and killed by a drag racer driving a Dodge Charger. At the end of the article the message wants tighter regulations on the message of ‘performance’ and when it is advertised, the terms ‘Closed Course,’ ‘Professional Driver,’ ‘Do not attempt,’ don’t go far enough.

The people, not the machines

However neutral an opinion tries to be, it is still generally one-sided. We try to be impartial, but we are obviously all in favor of promoting muscle cars. The same goes for the mentioned articles in question. This is made clear by the Tweet below, with the headline ‘road violence, by Dodge.’

On our side of the fence, that headline is clearly stating Dodge is promoting road violence. Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth.

Dodge and the other muscle car makers know their market. They know their past history. Performance and the want to go ever faster is human nature, not just reserved to automobiles. Any machine us humans use to travel is usually marketed as more efficient than the rest, bigger, faster, and more powerful than ever before. It’s just that muscle cars are unapologetic about this message as they have a competitive history in motorsport.

A modern, top-of-the-range EV vehicle still markets performance numbers down to the milliseconds, while also being wholeheartedly accepted by the eco. crowd. But it seems that eventually, any vehicle is going to come under the banner of a tool for road violence. Especially those that promote performance.

Which for me seems to all lead to a message of complete corrective behavior is needed for anyone who drives a roadgoing vehicle and a complete overhaul of the highway and traffic system. Safer vehicles and safer streets is a worthwhile message, especially poignant to those who have lost loved ones to traffic accidents.

Any roadgoing vehicle is a potential hazard. No wonder the very first roadgoing cars had people running in front of them with flags to warn of their arrival. But we’re really discussing here why muscle cars shouldn’t be used as the figurehead for the campaign. An easy target, but in that sense so should large passenger vehicles, supercars, buses, or basically any roadgoing vehicle that can go over 20mph.

An article over at outlines the rates of intentionally caused road crash deaths of US citizens abroad. The article concludes with the leading cause of non-natural deaths in US travelers abroad being road crashes. The highest numbers were in Southeast Asia from motorcycle crashes. This seems to show again it’s the machines, not just the state of mental behavior or intent.

Is it only Road rage?

Anybody who has driven a car for years has experienced this heightened sense of emotion. No matter the performance of the given car, most of us have lost the plot to some extent behind the wheel. This can range from mouthing obscenities under your breath then moving on, to acting out the anger.

Driving any vehicle requires a heightened sense of awareness and emotion. Keeping one ton of metal on a steady path requires focused concentration. We are all generally pretty good at keeping the reins tight, but there will always be those examples of individuals who lose the plot, on two or four wheels.

Bad terminology

An article at written by Robert Poole, director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation, outlines, ‘We all want to reduce the number of traffic fatalities, but over-the-top rhetoric that seeks to label traffic accidents as acts of intentional traffic violence isn’t the path to better or safer transportation policy.’

The terminology of Road or traffic Violence is a great one for recruitment, but it does smack too much of people intentionally wanting to use their vehicles for violence. As in the article stated above, this being aimed squarely at the Dodge Charger.


We see the article ‘Muscle-Car Makers Market Mayhem’ as too much finger-pointing to muscle cars eventually leading to road violence. This obviously is not true. That’s unless you don’t understand what the vehicles represent, their past history, and general ethos. I also can’t help but think that it doesn’t give humans the benefit of the doubt that they can’t separate out fact from fiction.

Let’s take an obvious example. We recently featured the video put out by Dodge to celebrate Talladega Nights 15th Birthday. Reese Bobby proclaims, ‘The most powerful force in the universe is love……No it’s not, it’s hot, nasty, badass speed.’
Anybody with a semblance of intelligence will see this as an over the top, nod to the movie, not a literal statement. Unless you’re extremely unhinged, it’s doubtful the video will inspire anyone to throw dynamite into a fireworks display, smash through barriers and continually perform burnouts(tires cost money).

But, you could also argue the ethos and underlying message of road violence is there. We think not.
Just like in the eighties when the PMRC tried to regulate and ban certain musicians for their lyrical content. The majority could differentiate between entertainment and real-life, without the need for a Big Brother telling us what was influential or not. A blanket, Big Brother approach may have good intentions, but it rarely works in reality.

With ever-increasing populations and car numbers, road safety has to be constantly addressed. But please don’t point the finger at the small niche of muscle cars. There will always be examples of people using any car the wrong way. However, the majority who have the money to afford a muscle car will generally have the sense of how to use them properly.

Constantly improve the highway system, make cars ever safer, but don’t penalized muscle cars. Just because they have the potential for speed and performance, doesn’t mean in everybody’s hands they lead to any type of violence.

We would love to hear your opinions on the subject in the comments below.


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