Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Huge toll in car fatalities in U.S. goes unnoticed

with 3 comments

reprinted from the Washington Post for the Toronto market – I doubt we will see it here in any of our papers

TheStar.com – Wheels –

the number of people who die in car crashes in North America is staggering, even if it is absent from the agenda of most public officials and largely ignored by the public.

When all is said and done and the ball begins to drop on New Year’s Eve, 44,000 people, give or take several hundred, will have died in auto accidents in the United States this year.

In Canada, about 2,500 die in road fatalities.

For perspective, consider that:

* At the 2006 casualty rate of 800 soldiers a year, the United States would have to be in Iraq for more than 50 years to equal just one year of automobile deaths back home.
* In any five-year period, the total number of traffic deaths in the United States equals or exceeds the number of people who died in the horrific South Asian tsunami in December 2004. U.S. traffic deaths
amount to the equivalent of two tsunamis every 10 years.
* The National Safety Council says your chance of dying in an auto crash is one in 84 over your lifetime.

And every day I see someone driving as though they are not only indestructible but also exempt from every form of regulation.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 3, 2007 at 11:01 am

Posted in Road safety

3 Responses

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  1. WHY DOES THE NEWS MEDIA LET THIS GO “UNNOTICED ? ? ?

    IT SHOULD BE PUBLISHED ALONG WITH HOMICIDES, WAR CASUALTIES,

    AND OTHER LIKE STATISTICS.

    vink80

    June 28, 2007 at 6:05 am

  2. The news media do notice individual collisions – at a local level. “If it bleeds, it leads” is still the maxim followed by most editors. However, recent research in Australia shows that we have become inured to images of mayhem. Some researchers think this is because young men (who are disproportionately represented in road crash deaths) play violent video games. What is not given much coverage is the cumulative impact. That is because motor vehicle manufacturers, gasoline marketers and so on are big advertisers.

    Notice too how when these products are sold the emphasis is more on surviving the “inevitable” crash (hence tank like SUVs) and still on “performance” (= speed). There is also a huge public backlash whenever something effective gets introduced that will improve road behaviour or crash survival – like speed cameras or mandatory seat belt laws. Cars could have electronic stability control fitted as standard – but it is still an “optional” extra – which means it is priced far higher than it need be, and left out of moist car specs by buyers.

    Stephen Rees

    June 28, 2007 at 7:15 am

  3. [...] comment on a much earlier post on the annual death toll on North American roads prompted me to go back to this story which I saw [...]


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