We give 16-year-olds minimal training, then entrust them with the control of a 3,000 lb. weapon for the rest of their lives.1 You can be an awful driver, but even if you get into an accident, your license will rarely be taken away.
Over 100 people per day die in car crashes in the U.S. This is the leading cause of death for people aged 1-54. Each year, an additional 4.4 million people are injured badly enough to need medical attention, costing over $380 million in direct medical costs.
You are 750 times likelier to die in a car accident than on a commercial airline flight. Similarly, buses and trains are far safer than driving a car.
If cars had not been invented, and we had designed 20th century cities around people, rather than the automobile, we’d have a robust public transportation network that would all but eliminate the need for cars, at least in cities and suburbs (see Japan). Even today, an auto-piloted Tesla is 9x safer than a human driver in a normal car. We should arguably drive cars the same way that pilots fly airplanes – with a bit of manual intervention when necessary, but otherwise letting a computer do the work.
Status quo bias is one of the most pernicious insensibilities that permeates our collective consciousness. In short, we have an emotional preference for the current state of affairs.