Why Less Traffic and Cleaner Air Matter

I remember the moment I became part of The Clean Air Campaign. My then 6-year-old daughter had a terrible cough one night and began struggling to breathe.

She was having a severe asthma attack.

Though we live just a few miles from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, there is no longer drive on Earth than to the hospital when your child cannot breathe. She is okay now, but the impression is lasting.

I learned everything I could about asthma. For example:

  • Asthma is the #1 reason kids are admitted into emergency rooms.
  • Almost 1 in 10 children in the U.S. have asthma—that’s 7 million children who cannot breathe.
  • Asthma accounts for 10.6 million doctor visits a year

Most importantly, I learned that poor air quality can trigger asthma. There are two kinds of pollutants that can trigger respiratory problems, 1) ground level ozone and 2) particle pollution (soot). And the primary cause of all this airborne junk? Cars.

I drove to work that summer as all the facts swirled in my head. I sat in traffic and realized I was in an SUV— ALL BY MYSELF! Everything leaving my exhaust pipe was floating around waiting for my daughter and all the other people with asthma to breathe it in. That’s when I became part of The Clean Air Campaign. I now drive a hybrid, telework, carpool, ride transit, do whatever I can to keep a car off the road.

Just like a former smoker can be pretty fervent when talking to smokers, I confess I can be preachy about not spewing more stuff in the air than we have to. I know it’s not easy to get around in Atlanta without driving alone sometimes. I just ask you to think about it more. Can you ride with a co-worker to the meeting instead of taking separate cars? Can you take MARTA to the game? How about riding with your spouse or a neighbor to work? The Clean Air Campaign can even help you find a carpool partner.

Just give it a try. Change the way you drive and maybe fewer kids will have to take that long ride to the ER.

Rudy Fernandez is the owner/creative director at Radio Outhouse. Rudy and his colleagues have worked with The Clean Air Campaign for 8 years and have produced several memorable radio spots and other advertising projects for less traffic and cleaner air that are heard/seen around the region, some of which have won national recognition.


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