Saturday, November 24, 2018

Distracted Driving Piece misses Main Factor

We are incoherent on cars and driving
The piece on distracted driving in the paper yesterday mostly missed the primary correlation.

There are more deaths because we are driving more. When we drive less, there are fewer deaths.

But because a broad range of industry and cultural practices demand that we insulate driving itself from fault, insist we celebrate cars and driving as paradigmatic of American Freedom, and instead must find humans and human error at fault, we deflect from the actual causes of roadway carnage and burrow into side matters.

So we get repeated articles, discussions, and hand-wringing over distracted driving.

We also normalize distraction - quasi-advertorial, August 2015
Distracted driving is indeed a problem, and it should be addressed. But it's not the main thing.

If we really want to make an immediate and lasting dent in our count of roadway deaths, we need to drive less often, drive shorter distances, and drive more slowly.

We don't need a "drive better" campaign, we need a "don't drive" campaign.

And in fact, in Oregon, driving correlates strongly with death
(from an SJ graphic even! red comments added)

When the Feds celebrate the travel record,
they elide the death records also.
You might recall that over at the Vitoria Transport Policy Institute, Todd Litman has proposed a new traffic safety paradigm and criticized "targeted safety programs" because they don't get at system problems.

He says:
Despite large traffic safety program investments, motor vehicle accidents continue to impose high costs, particularly in the U.S. Crash casualty rates have ended their long-term decline and recently started to increase. New strategies are needed to achieve ambitious traffic safety targets such as Vision Zero....The current paradigm favors targeted safety programs that reduce special risks such as youth, senior and impaired driving. A new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel imposes risks, and so supports vehicle travel reduction strategies such as more multimodal planning, efficient transport pricing, Smart Growth development policies, and other TDM strategies.
Conveniently, a "don't drive" or "drive less" campaign dovetails with urgent needs on climate. Yesterday, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released in a tremendous news dump.

We are in trouble
And previously here:

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