"...As horrific as the Las Vegas murders were, we need to keep in perspective that motor vehicles kill about twice as many people in one day on average, day in and day out. We've just become so desensitized to it that it's simply business as usual for many people."--Joe R., on Streetsblog
I was amused by the Santa Fe New Mexican editorial about the multihour logjam in traffic that occurred last Friday in Pojoaque after a teen (who has, according to the New Mexican, been cited six times for traffic infractions since 2014) lost control of his Chrysler, careened into oncoming traffic, and caused a multicar fatal wreck which the New Mexican conveniently called an "accident". The New Mexican editorial board apparently was more concerned with driver inconvenience and less concerned with driving habits that kill.
This is the same newspaper that has recently printed every editorial it could find blasting our lack of ability to prevent gun violence. One can only assume that the editorial board of the New Mexican drives but does not shoot. How else could we explain such a flagrant double standard?
Certainly the recent Las Vegas carnage as well as most other gun violence is deliberate while the teen who tied up Northern NM traffic for hours did not intend to kill anyone. That may be a fine point lost on the dead and their loved ones. Not to mention, all those inconvenienced motorists. Such a hair-splitting rationale for flagrantly bad driving was lost on me when I was hit by a car a week before I was scheduled to defend my Ph.D. proposals. I regained consciousness, covered in my own blood, in time for the ambulance to arrive. That incident eventually took about a year out of my grad school progress. We make a lot of excuses, most revolving around convenience, for bad driving. I was one of the lucky ones and can push back against those excuses. The motorist killed last Friday is mute.
|Fig. 1. Traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents. Image: International Transport Forum|
Source, Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
|Fig 2. Traffic deaths and gun (including suicide) deaths in the U.S.|
Graph: Violence Policy Center via Transport Providence
Source: Streetsblog, Angie Schmitt
If the New Mexican editorial board treated gun violence like it does car violence, our solutions to shootings would be to all wear bulletproof vests rather than to reduce the number of shootings. So I don't have very high expectations for the media or my fellow citizens as there still seems to be little emphasis on serious efforts towards crash prevention (enforcement, education, and engineering) rather than more and more crash mitigation. I wish we would hold ourselves and each other accountable to higher standards regardless of what dangerous devices we wield in close proximity to our fellow citizens. Compared to similar high economic status nations, we have high gun as well as high traffic violence rates in the U.S. These problems don't have one size fits all solutions, but as long as we avoid meaningful solutions and pretend that all is acceptable as it is, the carnage will continue, whether at the business end of a firearm or a motor vehicle.
On a related topic, I have called SUVs "urban assault vehicles" in the past. Angie Schmitt made it official.