Automobiles have had an immense impact on twentieth-century life, but they have also brought a host of problems, from air pollution to traffic congestion. Some of these issues are the result of governmental regulations (such as safety features and rules of the road), which may not have been necessary when Henry Ford introduced his assembly line in 1908. This method of production allowed him to offer automobiles at lower prices and more widely appeal to consumers.
The automobile was a catalyst for dozens of new industries, from steel to vulcanized rubber. It also revolutionized transportation, opening up a whole new way of living and allowing people to move to the places where they wanted to live, work and play.
Most modern automobiles use an internal combustion engine, usually powered by gasoline or other fossil fuel. They enclose passengers and cargo in a protective space with doors and windows. They provide a level of safety not available on bicycles or most public transit vehicles.
Many people rely on cars to get to work, school and other activities. In cities, crowded automobiles cause traffic jams that make travel difficult for others who are not driving. Air pollution caused by cars and other sources can damage the planet and affect human health. Automobiles have also contributed to the rise of leisure activities, including restaurants and fast food chains. For women, they have given them the ability to travel away from home and take part in many activities, such as camping or going on long trips.