Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Unacceptable loss

Sixteen-year-olds dying in car crashes should not be an acceptable part of life.

It should not be okay to say that 42,000 to 43,000 motor vehicle-related deaths a year is simply the price you pay for automobile travel, that it's really not so bad on a fatality-per-million-miles basis.

For years, flying by commercial airline has long been the safest mode of travel in the U.S. Still, over the last ten years, the rate of fatalities in domestic commercial air travel has dropped 65%. In 2007, there has only been a single fatality.

We should seek similar gains with automobile-related injuries and death. I'm not sure zero deaths is a realistic goal. It's unlikely that the commercial air travel is going to remain fatality free year-after-year. And, it's undoubtedly easier to control the factors that lead to airplane crashes than those that lead to automobile crashes (though airplane crashes are nearly always more catastrophic).

But, the young woman who died in Weymouth was not wearing a seat belt in a car driving too fast. That's not an accident. That's a preventable tragedy.

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