Traveling to Ushuaia – A Journey To The End Of The World

4 a.m. around 100 km north of Río Gallegos. I haven’t slept for 32 hours, but the vast Patagonian landscape of veldt you are traveling through fills you with excitement and numbness at the same time, that makes it impossible to find rest. The hours pass, you stare out of the window and it’s as if you would glance at a prehistoric, untouched landscape and realizes how our planet might have been looked a million years ago, before mankind started to cover the earth with highways, urban sprawling and industrial sites.

I could have taken a plane. I could have avoided effort and pain. I could have saved time and money. I could have chosen the nice and easy way. But ever since I have seen the unfamiliar name of Ushuaia, the most southern town in the world, on a map I knew that traveling over land to this destination on tip of the American Continent would be the only way for me. The journey is the reward.

On the bus I met Ricardo, a student from Puerto Montt/ Chile. Together we have been listening to Gustavo Santaolalla’s great song “De Ushuaia a la Quiaca” over and over again, and it seems as if the Argentinean composer has created the perfect soundtrack for traveling trough Patagonia: a hypnotizing melody of distant, superjacent guitars containing this piercing twitch of solitude. A music that intensifies the delirious state on the edge of being awake and falling asleep I’ve been for almost 2 days. As further we are traveling south I realize that we are approaching to the end of the world, to a point were you can’t go any further.

The landscape changes, it’s getting sparser. Sometimes from the middle of nowhere turns up a sheep farm or some remote village consisting of three wooden houses and a church, but as soon as we have passed, there’s pampas, solitude and loneliness again. The incredible vast sky is melting with the horizon and suddenly you wonder if you will ever reach your destination or if this fragile dream of rough beauty might continue forever. And maybe it doesn’t matter anymore, because you have already crossed a hidden frontier and reached an inner point of no return.

But suddenly it all ends, Magellan Strait, the last barrier that had separated us from legendary Tierra del Fuego, has been crossed and we actually reach Ushuaia. The bus spills out its tired, exhausted and happy freight and it feels like a rebirth, like an awakening. Windy roads lead me to the port where giant cruise ships and rotten fishing boats are swaying in Beagle Channel. I’m glancing at the nearby mountain range, forming part of the National Park Tierra del Fuego, when a sudden thought rises up: maybe this isn’t the end of the world; maybe it’s just the beginning.

Distracted Driving Is a Bigger Problem Than We Thought

The numbers do not lie: 37,150 people in the US died due to distracted driving in 2017. But, sadly that is not the worst part of the news. Researchers are finding that there is no single cause to preventing distracted driving.

This means that there is no direct route to a solution resulting in more and more deaths. Right now, the only thing proven to work is to spread awareness about distracted driving.

Another thing that experts are deciding to try is how to make smartphone connectivity to cars to take less attention. Almost every new car on the market makes it easy to connect your phone to your car.

You are able to stream music, map directions, and in some cases even order food, coffee, etc. This is taking many drivers’ attention away from the road, in drivers aged 17 to 22 spend at least 12% of their time behind the wheel messing with their smart phones. Any percentage of time on your phone behind the wheel is too much time directed away from the road.

Both Apple and Android have their own extensions for cars. At one point Apple demanded more of customers’ attention than the Android version when entering directions and getting from one place to another. But, when it came to texting Android was by far more of a distraction. However, both must make a change to reduce the threat of distracted driving.

With all of the new tech in cars, come inward facing cameras. Some people are not okay with that for privacy reasons which is understandable as to a degree, it is a basic right, in most peoples’ eyes. However, these cameras may help develop self-driving cars with the data it collects. Additionally, it may be our answer to solving the distracted driving epidemic.

The data the cameras collected from crashes and everyday driving habits can be analyzed by experts to determine how to make the new technology in vehicles less cognitively demanding or even develop an algorithm to prevent inappropriate use while the vehicle is in motion.

But, how much privacy are consumers really willing to give up? How much of their data are companies entitled to? Right now, there is not much regulation, but it is probably coming soon as new cars will soon all have this technology.

There must be some type of compromise because when this data is used appropriately, breakthroughs can happen. For example, a lot of the tracking built into these cars can prevent crimes. A lot of the data provided can solve the mystery of crashes, including distracted driving crashes and provoke ideas on how to prevent them. The results can save money on auto insurance, medical bills, and most importantly lives which are priceless.

Owning a Car Vs Using Rideshare

It is not a secret that buying, owning, and maintaining a car costs a significant amount of money. Especially now, when gas prices are high and continue to increase. What if you could avoid paying as much as you do right now? Even while still getting to where you need to go?

Many city dwellers can. In fact, many people from Chicago are already dumping their vehicles and becoming reliant on rideshare. Current research has shown that it is in fact cheaper to use services such as Uber and Lyft in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, among others.

However, some people are hesitant to use these services due to all of the negative news stories reporting violent crimes involving drivers of such services. However, some services such as Uber are introducing safety features to help riders feel more comfortable reaching someone in case of emergency. It also helps hold drivers accountable by creating a stronger sense of authority, of being watched.

There are many benefits to using these rideshare services in bigger cities. In bigger cities drivers tend to have to pay to park their vehicles in addition to other typical costs such as gas, repairs, affordable auto insurance, etc.

On the other hand, some reports say that the cost of using rideshare will not be cheaper than owning a car until 10 years from now. But, it just depends what is best for the individual budget. In fact, news sites have even developed calculators to see if ridesharing is beneficial to your budget. Another detail that the calculator includes is the cost of time. A detail often overlooked by the monetary costs of things, but a detail equally, if not more valuable to people.

Additionally, there are options to “pool” with other rideshare users to eliminate even more costs. This option is not always the best depending on the intentions of your trip, but can be especially helpful for the commute to work, for example.

The increase in regular rideshare users creates another problem, unfortunately. The amount of cars picking up passengers has disrupted the flow of traffic in certain regions of the city, especially in Chicago. They have even increased fines of traffic violations.

The tickets and gas prices also seem to be turning away some drivers as they pay out of pocket for each item, in addition to possible rideshare insurance. But, drivers who discover that there is a growth in the city population using their services may attract attention to drivers hoping to make more money.

This then creates an issue for rideshare companies who are already struggling to pay their workers. Companies such as Uber who are providing benefits to European drivers, the costs will not go down anytime soon for them.

Overall, it may benefit the individual to utilize rideshare instead of owning a personal vehicle. But, there are many factors to take into account before switching over, both personally and the industry in whole. Rideshare is undoubtedly a hot topic at this time and does not appear to be dying down anytime soon.