Driving Home for the Holidays: Christmas Past, Present and Future

November 29, 2016

driving home for the holidays

What was driving home for Christmas like in the 1900’s? What’s it like now? And what can we expect for the future of traveling home for Christmas? We’ve coordinated with the ghosts of Christmas to compare driving home for the holidays through the ages.

Home for the Holidays: Driving in the 1900’s

home for the holidaysUnfortunately, driving home for the holidays in the early 1900’s sounds like a near death wish. Cars became increasingly popular in the first decade of the 1900’s, with 200,000 vehicles on the road in 1909, and then jumped to 2.25 million by 1916. City infrastructure did not adapt quickly to the rapid influx of cars on the road. There were no stop signs, lane markers or parking lots. Plus, there were no regulations on age, nor were there many enforced laws, so drivers were at the liberty to drive however they felt was appropriate.

Because of the Wild Wild West nature of driving in the early 1900’s, accidents were common. Detroit reported 7,171 accidents in 1917, 168 of which resulted in death. Even sadder, 60 percent of auto fatalities in the 1920’s in Detroit were children. Portland reported a traffic-related death every five and a half days in the 1930’s.

While driving home for the holidays should be an exciting time of the year, history shows that it was dangerous, especially at busy times.

Thankfully, the ghost of today shows a less scary reality when you’re driving home for the holidays.

Christmas Travel Today

holiday travelWe’ve come a long way since the early 1900’s when it comes to driving home for the holidays. While Christmas traffic might still be bad – especially in major cities – we have a lot more resources to manage the influx of drivers on the road. Our roads are much more adept at handling the traffic, plus we’ve got awesome traffic apps to help navigate through the worst back-ups.
Driving today now consists of less lawless driving, and more packing a lot of snacks and playing your favorite TED Talks.

While the present is a vast improvement from the 1900’s, it pales in comparison to what the ghost of Christmas future has to show us.

The Future of Driving Home for the Holidays

driving home for christmasImagine getting into your car to go to Grandma’s house for Christmas. Instead of climbing into the driver’s seat, you hop into the back of the car, pull out your favorite Christmas movie and let the car drive you to Grandma’s house.

There’s no pedals, no steering wheel. You’re in a self-driving car.

The question isn’t whether or not autonomous cars will be a reality, it’s just a matter of when. How far into the future has our ghost of Christmas future taken us to get to the fully autonomous car?

There’s no way to tell definitely when this will be a reality, but we’re already experiencing technological innovations that are leading us to autonomous cars. Uber is already picking up passengers in self-driving Fords in Pittsburgh. Tesla now sells cars with the capabilities to drive autonomously.

Compare.com CEO Andrew Rose spoke with Yahoo! Finance to offer his predictions on when fully-autonomous cars will be the only vehicles on the road. It will be decades before we are able to climb into the back of a vehicle and not babysit the autonomous technology.

If predictions are right and fully autonomous vehicles are on the road in 2021 – conservative estimates say 2025 – it will still be years before it’s fully integrated. The average age of a car is 11.5 years, which makes only half the vehicles in 2035 autonomous (and that’s if all cars sold from 2025 on are only self-driving vehicles).

As we zip back from the scene of Christmas future of 2050, we hope you enjoy being home for the holidays this year and don’t get stuck in too much holiday traffic!

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