I’m reposting this item from Wednesday that seems to have been lost in the server meltdown. Unfortunately, your comments on it were probably lost for good, along with other comments you all made on Wednesday.
From the New York Times:
Traffic Deaths Up More Than 10 Percent in First Half of 2016
By DANIEL VICTOR OCT. 5, 2016
Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with fatalities from the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady and troublesome climb.
The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 compared to the total miles in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent.
But that does not account for the rise in the number of deaths: to 17,775 in the first six months of 2016 from 16,100 in the same period in 2015.
Officials have not identified any specific cause for the most recent increase.
“It is too soon to attribute contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways,” the agency said.
The dire statistics were the latest bad news from the traffic safety administration. The rate of fatalities has increased for seven consecutive quarters compared with traffic deaths in the corresponding quarters of previous years, dating to the final months of 2014.
Presumably, much of what’s going on is a belated rebound from the the rise in gasoline prices in the later 2000s and the ensuing Great Recession, which cut miles driven and drove a lot of marginal drivers (e.g., teens, illegal aliens, etc.) out of owning a car. And there can be lots of random influences, such as weather.
As commenters have suggested, maybe the spread of smartphones is making us more distracted drivers?
But still, another question we ought to start asking, considering that we are talking about a growth in the annual traffic death rate over the last seven quarters of well over 5,000 incremental violent deaths per year is: is this related to the Ferguson Effect that has been driving up homicides over almost precisely the same time period?
Are cops policing the streets and highways less proactively, spending more time in the donut shop, because they don’t want to wind up on Youtube as the face of Implicit Bias and Systemic Racism Against Black Bodies?
I don’t know, but it’s worth looking into.
Here’s another hypothesis: perhaps the rapid spread of high tech safety devices into new mass market cars, like backup cameras and blind spot detection and lane changing warning signals is, perversely, getting more people killed? I sure hope not, because this technology seems like it ought to be a real boon to humanity, but it’s not unknown for reforms to have unwanted effects.