Car Crash Art by John Chamberlain in Marfa, TX - Photo by Trevor Reichman
In one year, it is estimated that 1.2 million people are killed in auto-related accidents around the globe. That equates to slightly more than 3200 traffic deaths EVERY DAY. These mostly preventable deaths, in casualties alone, exponentially surpasses the number of casualties from higher profile, more newsworthy, less common tragedies. Yet, the horrific daily toll receives little attention by political leaders and the media .Here are several scary but true comparisons, measuring daily global auto deaths against higher profile tragedies which have been embedded into our collective consciousness:
1) Every day more people are killed in auto related deaths than in the 9/11 attacks on America.
2) Every day, about 3 times more woman, children, and men are killed in auto related deaths than in the recent Gaza conflict.
3) Every day, more than twice as many people perish in auto deaths than in Hurricane Katrina.
4) The daily toll from traffic accidents is equivalent to 15 plane crashes, each with 200 passengers aboard.
For events such as the ones mentioned above, the world pauses, reflects, and people come together to help with the aftermath. Celebrity telethons and concerts are held, and large sums of money and other forms of aid are donated…all in all, a tremendous outpouring of global love, focus, and resolve displayed.
Why have auto deaths become so acceptable and media or political coverage on the subject marginalized? Why is the current waning of the auto industry considered a tragedy and the resulting thousands of fewer deaths this last year not applauded and celebrated? Why are we not seizing this opportunity to dramatically shift the focus to public transit and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure? These are some of the questions that have been swept under the media and political rug, perhaps because automobile companies remain one of the largest advertising spenders, if not the largest, and oil companies the largest single contributors to recent political campaigns.
The number of auto casualties in wealthy nations have waned slightly, especially last year when driving decreased due to high gas prices and economic hardships, but not enough to compensate for the exponential growth in auto dependence and auto deaths in poorer nations. Still, In the USA, 110 people die every day (over 40,000 each year), not to mention the inefficiency and environmental degradation that results from the average driver hauling around 3.5 empty seats, vacant cargo space, and over a ton of metal, rubber, and plastic wherever they go.
Perhaps it is time to re-realize and re-invent our global methods of human transportation.