A picture is worth: The Brooklyn Death-O-Meter

Death-o-meter
Public Domain Prospect Park Archives

And we think the Slow Down campaigns are a recent phenomenon. In fact, they go way back to when cars were first taking over the roads. Taras Grescoe, author tweets about the Brooklyn Death-O-Meter that was built at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn in 1927. Ben Fried wrote on Streetsblog:

I think what’s jarring about this picture is the willingness to publicly tell drivers, without beating around the bush, that their actions behind the wheel have potentially fatal consequences. The Death-O-Meter assigned agency to motorists in a way that you rarely see in the modern press, police statements, or the courts.

© Kids at Play

Indeed, almost a century later, people are still trying to do the same thing, as seen by this campaign happening in Toronto right now.

Why is this still happening? Over at the Project for Public Spaces, Jay Walljasper mused about how we have come to take traffic deaths for granted.

Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths (and all traffic fatalities) are viewed as an inevitable side effect of modern life. “People accept this as normal, just as 100 years ago most people accepted that women could not vote,” observes Gil Penalosa, Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, an international organization working to make streets safe for people of all ages.

Perhaps we need more Death-O-Meters.

Tags: Transportation | Wayback Machine

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