Friday, September 18, 2009

traffic safety

Traffic safety doesn't much interest me as an academic pursuit, but I'm pulling some figures together on transportation sustainability and noticed that while the number of fatal crashes in the US has hovered around 40,000 for the last 20 years or so, that same statistic has declined substantially in other countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

The reason?

In an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health, Leonard Evans argues that it's the litigious culture of the US that's to blame. Says Evans, "Instead of encouraging drivers to obey traffic laws, actions over which they have control, the US media coverage defines the problem in terms of manufacturing and design decisions over which drivers have no control." Yet another problem that comes down to separating individual actions from their consequences. Is there any problem that can't be formulated in these terms? Apparently this goes back to Marx's decision to highlight production (as opposed to consumption) as a problem in Capital. But that still doesn't explain why all of the other countries get it while the US doesn't.

Evans, L. (2003). "A New Traffic Safety Vision for the United States." American Journal of Public Health 93(9): 1384-1386.

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