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Abstracts, Journal issues, NORMA 2.2

Implicit men in traffic safety discourse: A life course perspective on (auto)mobility, violations and interventions

Dag Balkmar

Sweden is the first country in the world to have introduced the so-called Vision Zero (Nollvisionen): an ethical approach suggesting that road safety cannot be traded for mobility. Policy writings on traffic safety have so far been very limited in terms of explicitly addressing risk taking practices as mainly performed by men or as a way of performing masculinities. In this article I discuss how the gender-neutral language in traffic safety policy constructs adulthood as signifying maturity and good driving practices. In traffic safety policy, implicit adult men are contrasted against the young(er) drivers who are constructed as problematic to traffic safety. Rather than being about maturity or something that ‘just happens’ I suggest understanding (dangerous) driving as a repertoire for some men to perform masculinities linking it with power and entitlement.

Still, not only dangerous driving practices per se are problematic to road safety. I argue that automobility needs to be understood as much more thoroughly affecting everyday life than is acknowledged in traffic safety discourse. A way of acknowledging the multiplicity of experiences and effects from automobility is to view it as a ‘process of damaging’. This perspective takes into consideration how automobility simultaneously enables and disables ‘safe’ mobility along lines of gender, age and able-bodiedness. Despite the fact that these problematic effects to some extent are acknowledged in policy, automobility remains a privileged mode of transportation in contemporary Sweden.

Keywords
Automobility, gender, masculinity, age, able-bodiedness, traffic safety, policy, Vision Zero/Nollvisionen, violation

NORMA: Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies 2(2), 127-143

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