Cars Kill More Kids Than Guns, but You Would Never Know That Reading the News

Screen capture. Quartz Briefs message

A new study looks at causes of deaths among children, but why does everyone focus on Number 2?

The website Quartz has an app that I follow which summarizes the news. When this little item came up I wondered, what is going on? Because despite the title, the top bar labelled Car Crashes was far bigger than guns.

Quartz headline

Quartz/Screen capture

The article it points to in Quartz is all about guns, based on a study by Dr. Rebecca M. Cunningham in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled The Major Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States. She notes that car crash related deaths have been falling until recently (they are rising again) and that firearm deaths are increasing more rapidly (but are still way behind.) She writes:

Declines in deaths from infectious disease or cancer, which had resulted from early diagnosis, vaccinations, antibiotics, and medical and surgical treatment, had given way to increases in deaths from injury-related causes, including motor vehicle crashes, firearm injuries, and the emerging problem of opioid overdoses. Although injury deaths have traditionally been viewed as “accidents,” injury-prevention science that evolved during the latter half of the 20th century increasingly shows that such deaths are preventable with evidence-based approaches.

Yet for all the talk about evidence based approaches, nobody is talking about the cars. Even though there are all kinds of constitutional issues with guns and none with cars, there is is no right to bear car keys, everybody is ignoring the fact that deaths by car are easily preventable with evidence based approaches. The evidence-based approach would indicate that you go after the biggest number, the cars, where there are proven solutions at hand, but nobody wants to talk about that.

Science screen capture

Science/Screen capture

Dr. Cunningham is clearly no fan of guns; according to an article in Science, they are her preoccupation. She had a tough childhood and says "My interest in gun violence prevention has ... roots [in] lived experience." She is talking about guns, so it is logical that the articles about her work cover that.

causes of death

© Rebecca M. Cunningham, M.D. et al

But her report is dispassionate, and if you didn't read all the interviews and articles, you would never know that this was the focus; the reality, the numbers and the report all note that cars are the bigger killer. Dr. Cunningham concludes:

Childhood and adolescent mortality remains overwhelmingly related to preventable injury-related causes of death. Progress toward further reducing deaths among children and adolescents will require a shift in public perceptions so that injury deaths are viewed not as “accidents,” but rather as social ecologic phenomena that are amenable to prevention.
NBC News

NBC News/Screen capture

It will be a very long slog before much is done about guns in the USA. Dr. Cunningham even has to say in her proposal that they promise to respect "gun ownership as an important part of the cultural fabric of U.S. society." She says "Our goals are not political. We are not aiming to decrease total gun numbers. We respect Second Amendment rights."

But there is no constitutional amendment that mentions cars. We know what to do about them right now: Fix the roads, design cars to be safer, provide decent alternatives.