8 comments to “A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage”

  1. Obama: “We can’t accept this carnage” Let’s apply that sentiment toward preventable highway carnage. | AnnaLeah & Mary

    […] How about the highway carnage? “One of America’s more egregious public health afflictions, deaths and injuries in car crashes, is being massively ignored.” – See more at: http://www.fairwarning.org/2012/09/a-strange-indifference-to-highway-carnage/#sthash.AI0IcziI.dpuf […]

  2. Art Weber

    Four times as many U.S. residents have been killed in motor vehicle accidents as there were U.S. military personnel killed in all our nation’s wars since the Revolution in 1776. In 2009 33,808 persons were killed, and 2,217,000 injured in traffic accidents. What happened to all the conscientious objectors? Are there any physicians or clergymen among them? Do those 2,217,000 injuries make up a significant portion of the medical industry’s client base?

    I’m not aware that any of our so-called transportation and urban planning “experts” know whether any particular mode of transportation might be considered a natural right. But human babies continue to arrive with a pair of legs “factory-installed,” not with wheels, fins, flippers, or wings. And driving a motor vehicle is not a right — it’s a privilege.

    There have been attempts to challenge a DMV revocation or denial of a drivers license on the grounds that it violates one’s constitutional right to travel. But California courts have rejected that claim and upheld the DMV action.

    Perhaps we should forget about vague terms like “Smart Growth,” “New Urbanism,” etc., and try to focus on which professions (physicians and clergymen, or architects and urban planners) are best qualified to determine which transportation mode or modes should be considered natural rights. Instead of offering incentives and cheerleading for developers wouldn’t it serve humanity more effectively if we mandated that all urban and suburban development have adequate alternatives to the automobile (including public transit and sidewalks) so it will all be at least as accessible and functional for non-motorists as it is for those who drive?

    Insurance policies don’t prevent accidents. It seems like a form of child endangerment when parents decide to raise their offspring where there’s no adequate alternative to the automobile.

    There’s nothing in the Ten Commandments or United States Constitution that says we must be fruitful and multiply. How many wannabee parents think of that when deciding to generate more children? It certainly seems like bad manners to gamble on the life or well-being of another person without first getting that person’s permission.

  3. Matthew Mabey

    This article is misleading to factually flawed. To quickly see through this, check-out the numbers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year.

    As a previous poster noted, you can’t legislate away stupidity. If people today drove as carefully and defensively in today’s cars as they did in the 1950’s and 60’s, and we had as little congestion on our roads as back then, and we had as low of rates of DUI as we do currently, then we might achieve what the author’s advocate. As it is, the better brakes get, the closer people follow the car in front of them, some people still drink and drive and we pack the roads with pointless trips. A by product of the super-safe cars of today is that they weigh twice as much as they would otherwise. This results in a great increase in fuel consumption and the associated pollution…

  4. Louis V. Lombardo

    Thank you to Fair Warning and its readers. You do important work alerting the public to real safety and health needs and possible solutions.

    In furtherance of that work it may help to pass along some facts and principles that have guided my work.

    In what I think of as a 112 year U.S. war against crash deaths and serious injuries, let’s keep in mind that:

    * More than 3.5 million Americans have died of crash injuries in the U.S.
    * An estimated 12 million Americans have suffered serious crash injuries in the U.S.
    * Using current U.S. DOT value of $6.2 million per life lost, costs would be $22 Trillion.
    * Our government provides no estimates of tears associated with tragedies.

    * Currently about 100 Americans lose their lives to crash injuries on an average day.
    * Currently about 56 Americans die of crash injuries each day without transport to any facility for medical treatment.

    A guiding principle I learned from Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed”, Dr. William Haddon’s work on crash injuries, Ben Kelley’s work, and Joan Claybrook’s leadership is:

    * People are human and humans make mistakes. The question for society is how do we build a system that is fail safe so that people don’t have to pay for mistakes with their lives or the lives of others?

    Think of a President with the courage of a John F. Kennedy. JFK challenged the nation to put mankind on the moon and bring them back alive within a decade — using 1960’s technology — and we succeeded.

    Imagine a President challenging the nation to create a transportation system where people can venture forth and and return alive — using 21st century technology.

    Safety researchers around the world believe this is a worthy goal that we should aim to achieve in a decade.

    We can and must do better at protecting motorists.


  5. Behram Parekh

    The US has some of the safest roads in the world when looked at not on a per capita basis, which is misleading, but on a per miles driven basis. Further, studies have shown that the vast majority of accidents do not occur on our interstate highway system, but on local roads, and that the increase in speed limits from 55 to 65 & 70 has not resulted in ANY increase in accidents or fatalities, rather, those rates have continued to decrease. While driver distraction is a huge problem, an increase in speed limits is not. And while the article points out the problems with the proliferation of infotainment systems in cars, it provides no suggestions for a solution to driver distraction. Driving every day, I see dozens of people texting, applying makeup, reading newspapers, and all sorts of idiotic things while driving in stop-and-go traffic, and this despite living California, where texting and driving is illegal and results in a multi-hundred dollar ticket.

    Car makers have made many strides towards increasing safety, such as automatic brake application for both forward & reverse (see the new Honda & Infiniti as examples), lane departure warnings (cadillac and others), blind spot monitoring (many car companies), all of which are designed to reduce the likelihood of an accident from a distracted driver.

    At the end of the day, government cannot outlaw stupidity.

  6. Steve Lang

    I take the point that the authors think NHTSA could and should do more, and I see the nod to the lower death rate of recent years in the final paragraph. But even if it’s true that “highway safety has largely fallen off the political radar screen,” the article leaves the impression that overall things are worse on the highways. But that’s not true. Interested readers might want to take a look at an amazing chart in “The New York Times” from about a week ago, which shows that highway fatalities per 100,000 people are about a third of what they were at their peak in the late ’60s, even as people are traveling twice as many miles today as they were then.

    See here: http://tinyurl.com/9vxncj7

    Steve Lang

  7. Barbara Kloster

    If the Department of Transportaion doesn’t care about safety on trains, why should they care about safety in cars. I am sure the automobile industry has lobbyists that are just as strong and just as rich as the train industry. The Department of Transportation has failed the citizens of the United States in more ways that I can even mention. All they think about is begger and faster, no matter how many lives are lost. Maybe it will have to hit home with Ray LaHood before anything will ever be done.
    Speed limits will be raised Nationwide so they can keep up with another useless intity, the bullet train. Need I say more?

  8. Mary Kay Kidwell

    Excellent article! Thanks so much for sharing, and especially for caring.

    Just after reading your article I came across this one: http://www.usatoday.com/money/cars/story/2012/09/24/car-distractions/57838182/1. Oh yeah, that’s the answer, adjust the font on display screens. According to this study, “Text in cars is here to stay.” I don’t know how I survived 50 years of driving without a display screen!

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