Screenshot from a Q13 report on a memorial for Lincoln Person (click to watch)
Sometimes, the immense scale of traffic violence overwhelms me. Every single death or life-long injury that happens on our streets happens to somebody’s neighbor, somebody’s friend, somebody’s family member. And every once in a while, it strikes close to our own homes.
During a well-attended community workshop during the early stages of the city’s Road Safety Summit a few years ago, somebody asked the packed room of people in City Hall to raise their hand if they, a close friend or family member had ever been in a serious traffic collision. Nearly every hand in the room went up.
The death and destruction wrought by traffic violence comes in many forms, but most of it is preventable. Poor decisions made by reasonable and mostly responsible people are amplified through the roof by dangerous streets that encourage casual speeding and a lack of concern and awareness of others, whether they are driving, biking or walking. What was a simple drive to the grocery store or to work can turn into a gory, terrifying scene. The result can devastate an entire family and community.
More than 32,000 people die every year in traffic collisions in the United States. This makes traffic violence a leading cause of death. Serious, often life-long injuries are much more common than deaths. If there really were a “war” on the roads, as sensationalizing reporters love to phrase it, the number of annual US casualties would be measured in the hundreds of thousands.
But there is no war. A war requires opposing sides and at least some kind of endgame. Traffic violence is much more like a disease than a war. Though it does affect elderly, young and low-income populations disproportionately, nobody is immune.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Like many diseases, we have treatments and cures. We have an obligation as a society to implement known solutions and to continue researching and trying new treatments. What could be more important than protecting the lives of our neighbors? Continue reading