Terrorism On The Highway
Law enforcement and state governments failed the citizens of this country (U.S.) long before September, 11, 2001, as regards thwarting death and destruction in the name of self-assertive, self righteous behavior. With all due respect to the many throughout history who have died at the hands of those who terrorize, it may be that our priorities regarding homeland security should be adjusted to include highway safety. Historical data shows that around 40,000 Americans die and millions are injured in a typical year due to automotive related accidents, at a cost of $230 billion per year.*
The Department Of Transportation has identified alcohol consumption as a major contributor to accidents, but how many times have we heard news reports stating that (alcohol or no) a multiple car pileup was caused by fog, ice, or a jack-knifed tractor trailer. Many of these “accidents” are not simply acts of nature (or drinking). They also involve driving skills, education, and law enforcement. The frequency and severity of accidents could be reduced by addressing driving behavior such as tailgating, speeding, and operator distractions.
Death, injury, and their accompanying costs surely have a negative impact on members of a society, as does the added stress people feel while driving. But after decades of adjusting to more cars, faster cars, and only maintenance enforcement, only the oldest drivers may recall what it was like to relax behind the wheel. The citizens have adjusted to a level of terror.
Driving behavior has changed. It would now take massive enforcement and education to address, not just tailgating and speeding, but a new generation of problems like high-volume sound systems, and cell phone and active display distractions. If you have been driving only for the last 20 years, you might think, What tailgating and fast driving? “What distractions? This is just normal driving.”
Indeed it is normal driving. And it’s not just normal in the US, it’s a world-wide issue. According to Global Road Safety (www.globalroadsafety.org), over 1.2 million people are killed each year in crashes, and over 20 times that number injured. It may sound strange for the US to apply a Department of Homeland Security advisory addressing vehicular accidents, but something dramatic should be done to curtail this annual disaster.
In terms of cost to person and society, these attacks on our security are not as concentrated as the destruction in New Orleans for example, but they are no less terrifying to the affected individuals. Contact your local, regional, and national legislators and ask them to do something to reduce the carnage.
* U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
If planes flew like we drive: