Murder machines: why cars will kill 30,000 Americans this year


What’s with the sensational headline that has little to do with the “we made jaywalking a crime” text?


  1. The current headline has everything to do with the topic.

  2. We didn’t, the car companies did. And in designing streets which prioritize cars, planners don’t consider people, and they design crossings which are death traps to people on foot…


I suppose the answer to your query lies in the text of the linked article.

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Hey, you couldn’t sell Fords with a title like “car accidents” now could you? Gotta kick it up a notch.

I propose a dramatic recreation of Roger Zelazny’s 1967 story “Auto de fe” is in order.


This post oddly coincides with Thursday’s Dinosaur Comics.


This probably deserves a double or triple-take:

That sounds like a policy of building more for the rich than for the poor. Of course, with our current infrastructure, cars are increasingly a necessity rather than a luxury, but that still screws those who are too poor to afford them, to disabled to drive them, or get killed by them.


Yes, but cyclists occasionally run stop signs.


Not sure what you mean – that’s a video taken by a cyclist of a car running a red light…


We should go back to the good old days, when a pedestrian was only in danger of being run down by a chaise and four, instead of a horseless carraige! :stuck_out_tongue:

Sidewalks existed before cars did. Sure, you used to be able to walk across the street with less danger and concern, but that was because horse drawn carraiges didn’t move nearly as quickly as motor vehicles do, and because they weren’t nearly as commonplace.

The problem isn’t really the vehicles themselves - it’s the number of them. In “ye olde days”, the primary limiting factor on the number of vehicles on the streets was actually the number of horses available. To operate a carraige required stables and horsegrooms and feed and stopping points along your route where you could get replacement horses, and it was a complicated, expensive business.

Then, when Ford started cranking out his Model T and everyone could have their own carraige without need to be concerned with horses, suddenly transportation was democratized. You no longer had to be wealthy to take a carraige, because horses were no longer a factor of the cost. The vehicle itself was never reall the expensive element in the equation.

But even before the automobile, congestion existed. You can find plenty of historical accounts of cities thronged with carraiges for major events and holidays, the streets choked with vehicles, people unable to cross the street for fear of being crushed underwheel. Even on ordinary days, the major roadways which handled the bulk of carraige traffic were often quite busy in large cities like London or Paris or Rome, and you were much safer keeping to sidestreets.

And there was, of course, always the threat of the horses themselves bolting for one reason or another, or a reckless or inebriated driver crashing their vehicle. You can find quite horrific accounts of overturned carraiges and sideswiped buildings and head on collisions and everything else. Carraiges badly handled, or horses unwittingly spooked, were deathtraps.

Cars aren’t going away anytime soon, but we don’t need to bemoan their presence. All we have to do is double down and emphasize and prioritize safety. The reason cars kill so many people is because so many people drive, and they do so unsafely. With better training, stricter enforcement, and the cultural emphasis on safety and sanity needed to back it up, we could drastically reduce the human cost of the usage of a technology which is going to be with us for a long time to come whether we like it or not.


In other words make cars move at 1 mph, stuff the bumpers with bubble wrap, fine the hell out of anyone who doesn’t drive at 1 mph with a bubble wrapped car and ridicule anyone who says this is insane. :))
I also find it very strange that people tend to equate car ownership with being rich. This might be an american thing but in Europe it’s the richer guys who live in (expensive) city centers and are able to get around on foot/bicycle. Also, Europe as a whole never had a car lobby, or any such thing to speak of, but we have the same regulations on jaywalking throughout the EU as the US has.
To the contrary, the lobby efforts taking place now are from american companies selling ticketing gear (speed traps, red light cameras) aimed at cars not pedestrians.

No they don’t, and we don’t either. It varies from place to play. Also, ‘jaywalking’ is an insult, and is an attempt to deny that everyone has the right to cross the road.


More like have more rigorous testing for licenses, more frequent retesting, readily available public access training and driving education, readily available and affordable public transportation, better road design and traffic flow, improved bicycle and pedestrian access pretty much everywhere, et cetera…

Who does that? I certainly didn’t. In fact, I said the exact opposite. So I’m not sure what brings it to mind for you?

Certainly this form of profit-motivated lobbying and enforcement is contrary to progress. Hence why I think America in particular needs to emphasize careful driving culturally and institutionally, not punitively. Clearly ticketing and fines can only impact things a certain amount - a notion reinforced by studies comparing positive and negative reinforcement.

We should be making people want to be safer drivers on principle rather than threatening them into compliance.


Actually, you have a right to cross the road at the appropriate designated spot.

Should there be allowances based on circumstance? Of course. Someone walking across an empty sidestreet is in no danger. But you’d be amazed how stupid some people are with their jaywalking. I’ve personally witnessed people cross crowded four lane highways at night. So jaywalking itself as a concept is a real concern, and should be illegal in many situations.

Of course, part of the problem is we just don’t have the appropriate infrastructure in many places. A whole heck of a lot of the US lacks basic sidewalks, much less crosswalks or pedestrian overpasses. A large proportion of jaywalking can surely be attributed solely to the fact that people aren’t being given a safe way to cross the streets they need to cross.


To say to “the car companies did it” is a massive cop-out and a-historical.

First, in the early 1920s, the Railroads were much more powerful, politically and economically, than the dozens of car companies, many of which were going out of business.

Second, there was huge popular support for handing over our cities to automobiles. In the early 20s, the Mayor of Los Angeles tried to ban cars from a multi-block area of Downtown to relieve congestion. The Mayor darn near got lynched, and the program was cancelled after only a few weeks.

Don’t think other politicians didn’t take note, and adjust their stances accordingly.

Prioritizing cars over people may have been a bad choice, and the cars companies did (eventually) make a lot of money from this social choice, but the facile “We didn’t, the car companies did” claim is lazy and inaccurate.


You’re right on the money.

The average person LOVED automobiles. It was liberating to be able to pay a reasonable price to own your own private form of transportation. Suddenly people could travel much farther and much faster than they could before, and they could do so on their own timetable and on whichever route they chose to take.

People clamoured for cars. We were in love with them. (Or rather, our grandparents and great grandparents were.) And for good reason! It was new! It was exciting! It was glamorous! It was essentially Freedom encapsulated, the power to go where you wanted, when you wanted, for cheap! Who wouldn’t be starstruck?


In ancient Rome, all wheeled vehicles were banned from the city streets during the day.

Of course, that means you can find people’s complaints about being woken by wagons full of building material rumbling through the street at night.


Should the news stations broadcast daily fatalities and injuries resulting from auto accidents, they would/might be sued out of town by the auto-cats and friends. But the Gail Wynand stuff is ok.

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