The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Death Cult of the American Car

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Ryan Cooper writing in the American Prospect:

Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association released its annual preliminary report on pedestrian safety in the United States for 2022. It projected that pedestrian deaths will have increased for the 12th consecutive year, nearly doubling from 4,302 in 2010 to an estimated 8,126—the highest number in more than 40 years. Back in April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its preliminary report on motor vehicle fatalities in 2022, finding a slight decrease from the prior year but still a 32 percent increase compared to 2011.

It’s not hard to discover why American roads are so deadly, particularly for pedestrians. There are too many cars and trucks that are too heavy and tall, driving too fast on streets that are too wide, with too many points of conflict. The typical pedestrian death is an SUV or truck running someone down on a “stroad,” the classic suburban arterial street-highway hybrid with many lanes, high speed limits, regular stoplights, and drivers constantly turning on and off. (This is also the most dangerous type of road for drivers, particularly on motorcycles.)

The European Union, by contrast, has been pushing road safety policies for decades now that have cut down on road deaths by 22 percent since 2012. Best practices include road narrowing, traffic-calming devices like speed bumps, lowering speed limits, taxes on excessive vehicle weight, seat belt compliance efforts, protected bike lanes and sidewalks, pedestrian safety regulations on automakers, “daylighting” intersections (which involves removing parking spots close to intersections to improve visibility), timing traffic lights to give pedestrians a head start in the crosswalk, and so forth.

It is as if the average American citizen is playing a life or death version of Frogger at every crossing. That increase in deaths would be a hair-on-fire emergency in any other rich country. But here in America, as in healthcare and gun violence , the government is comically in bed with the various comercial industries.