Team Five Week Thirteen Group Report on Car Culture... By Letitia Lujan


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Well, folks, this is the final week that I, Letitia Lujan will be reporting to you via the Internet as a member of Dr. Leon James' Traffic Psychology course at the University of Hawaii. However, do not fear!! For I will continue to be a Traffic Psychologist probably for the rest of my life. Traffic Psychology is relevant from the moment I come into contact with the outside world, so how could I possibly not continue on?

I wanted to make my final report be on something of the present with hope and potential for the future--a kind of bringing together of today and the days to come. So, this week I used the Inktomi Search Engine that I had stumbled upon in my Report 3: Traffic Psychology on the Internet. I found this search engine to be quite attractive because it presented me with results that I had not found when I had used other search engines. Therefore, this week I had the term "car activity" heading the search.

I landed on the site entitled "Solar-Powered Cars to Race Across America". It is simply an article giving information on a race with solar-powered cars from over 40 colleges and universities. The race is known as "Sunrayce 1995" and was held earlier this year. Even though the race is already over, I felt that there were some real interesting things about this race that are worth passing on.

about the race...

The race was held in North America and was the largest solar car race. There were over 40 colleges and universites represented. There were teams from the United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The stretch was 1,150 miles long and was from Indianapolis, Indiana to Golden Colorado. It would last from June 20, 1995 to June 29, 1995.

The race had two main functions. One was that the whole event itself was practically a two-year educational program. College students designed and built their own cars in order to participate in Sunrayce '95. In addition, they got much hands-on training as they worked together. The second function was that the event served as an introduction for the public to alternative transportation technologies and energy resources that benefit the environment. With gas and oil prices rising the way they have these last few years, what person wouldn't want to learn more about other options that might be available in the future? I know that if there ever were a solar-powered car race in Guam, many people would show up--including myself. Even if it doesn't have anything to do with the money in your wallet, the environment is a very big concern in itself. Breathing in all those fumes must have some bad effect. Perhaps they contribute to people tailgating others or driving rudely on the road. It is possible. Many people say that once they get behind the wheel, they turn into something totally unlike the nice person everyone else thought them to be. Maybe it is something with the exhaust...

Anyhow, the participating solar cars travel at a predetermined distance each day. They travel through towns and stop over for the night until they are to leave the next morning. This gives spectators the opportunity to look over the cars and learn a little more about it. The winner of the race is the one with the lowest cumulative time over the nine-day race. After the finish, all cars are on exhibit. There are many educational displays, exhibits on renewable energy, exhibits on energy efficiency technologies, and also entertainment and food available.

I think that events such as the Sunrayce '95 are extremely positive and beneficial to everyone. As a car-owning society, our cars enable us to lead our lives pretty much as we please. We are able to travel longer distances and do not have to live within the vicinity of our work places. We have the freedom to jump in our cars and go to the opposite end of the island for a refreshing dessert we can only seem to find at that end of the island. We can maintain relationships with those who live in different areas of the island because we are able to visit them (or not visit them) as often as we please. Owning a car is a positive thing. However, there are the things that we all must have to deal with, such as pollution and rising gas prices. Solar-powered cars seem to be trying to convince the public that they have the answer to those problems. Sunrayce '95 is one way that they are putting that message out.

All this is relevant to Traffic Psychology because I do not think we will ever become a society without the opportunity to own personal transportation for oneself. It seems unthinkable. Solar-powered cars seem to be a viable option. In my opinion, it is something we all should look look into for future concerns.

See what Car Culture teammates Sharla Supnet and Jason Nakasato have to share with you this week!

Any comments or suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line.