That’s the title of an excellent online symposium running in The New York Times’ Room For Debate page.
And the answer of all the esteemed thinkers assembled by The Times is: yes, the carnage on America’s roadways – the 37,000 fatalities a year caused by car accidents – is excessive and reducible.
The different writers’ explanations for why we have so many traffic deaths are fascinating. Tom Vanderbilt, the author of “Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us),” points to Canada and a 50 percent decline that it experienced in car accident fatalities between 1979 and 2004. During the same period, the number of American traffic deaths declined by a much smaller percentage. If Canada can do it, why can’t we? Vanderbilt urges us to take an epidemiological approach to car accidents. Rather than seeing them as isolated tragedies, we need to address them as a public health crisis, emphasizing the “three Es” – education, enforcement and engineering.
Adrian K. Lund, from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, thinks the answer lies in only one of the “Es” – enforcement. He believes the problem is speeding and we’ll have fewer car crashes only when we begin to meaningfully enforce our speeding laws.
Dan Burden, from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, thinks the problem is too many driver-miles. We’d have fewer car accidents, he says, if we redesigned our communities to make them more pedestrian and mass transit-friendly.
When the US leads the Western world in the number of people killed each year in car crashes, and car accidents are the leading cause of deaths for Americans aged 1-34 years old, something needs to be done. And we need to take a look at all the different tacks available to us.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, car accident or motorcycle accident and require the services of a Boston personal injury attorney, call The Law Office of Alan H. Crede to arrange a free in-person consultation.