Did you know?

The total number of people killed in highway crashes in the US in 2001 was 42,196.

Similar numbers exist for other recent years; 1999: 41,611; 2000: 41,945; 2002: 42,815; 2003: 42,884; 2004: 42,636.  And to repeat, 2001: 42,196.

Assuming a 9/11 death toll of 2752, that means more than 15 times as many people died in the US in car crashes in 2001 as in the tragic 9/11 attacks.

That is like 9/11 happening more than once a month.

Or if 42,196 is a good average per year (reasonable based on the data above for 1999-2004), in the 7 years since 9/11 there have been 295,372 deaths in the US due to car crashes. That’s more than 100 “9/11s” in just seven years.

Did you know? If any of your family members or close friends are numbers contained in any of those yearly death toll statistics, you might have known. But the rest of the country probably doesn’t know. Somehow it just doesn’t make good television, it doesn’t provide good soundbites for politicians.

And yet, 9/11 sparked billions of dollars in defense spending and thousands more lives lost in the “war on terror”. What about a “war on traffic fatalities”? NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that highway crashes cost Americans at least $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person. The NHTSA budget in 2006 was $696.4 million.

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2 responses to “Did you know?

  1. I think that it is fundamentally different to be talking about casualties as a result of being attacked as opposed to casualties from accidents or natural disasters. The 9/11 attacks – or the London bombings, or the Bali bombings – were neither random nor ordinary. Like you, I have lost loved ones in a car accident and lost no one on 9/11, but I still think there is a huge difference between the two. Why not respond with a war against accidents? Well, it’s not like “traffic fatalities” have declared war on the U.S… but more seriously, as long as people are in control of cars, there will be accidents. We’re fallible. Terrorism is different because it is deliberate.

  2. Yes but that is precisely my point, we can DO something about traffic safety, we can prevent some of the thousands of needless deaths with better research, innovations in technology in car design, and more strict laws on things like drunk driving, and yet we don’t do it. And my hypothesis is that we don’t do it because it’s just not on people’s radar that we could do something about it, nor is it on people’s radar what the magnitude of the problem is.

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