Thursday, January 19, 2023

Piece on Traffic Deaths too Breezily Summarizes

Today's piece on the front page is a little incoherent. It trumpets a "decrease" in death, but in the second paragraph cites only a 0.2% change. That is just noise and random variation, and is not a meaningful increment of change! It is grasping at straws.

Front page today

It also is based on only nine months of data, not a full year's worth.

It's clearly a national piece, "localized" for the Statesman Register Journal Guard Today, and quotes counts for Marion and Lane counties:

Marion County had five cyclist fatalities in 2021, but no fatalities in 2022. There were no cyclist fatalities in Lane County in 2021, but there was one fatality in 2022.

Marion County had 15 pedestrian fatalities in 2021 and 16 in 2022. Lane County had six pedestrian fatalities in 2021 and six in 2022.

What about West Salem and Polk County?

It also looks away from road design and the implications from our paradigm of congestion relief. The lead image for the piece highlights individual responsibility not any system problems: "Don't drink and drive." Further in ODOT repeats the gospel of false equivalence: 

“Drivers and pedestrians share responsibility for each other’s safety – so we all need to be alert and ditch any distractions,” said Angela Beers Seydel, a public information officer for ODOT.
Just a refusal to look at the fact that it is drivers, including sober ones driving lawfully, who employ lethal speed and power, not pedestrians.

The implications congestion relief with wide streets overengineered for capacity is quickly passed by:

Fatalities began to rise two years ago when roads were largely empty due to
stay-at-home orders in many states during the height of the COVID pandemic. With less traffic, speeds increased, as did reckless and impaired driving, leading to a record spike in deaths last year, authorities have said. [italics added]

All in all it is a very business-as-usual summary, and intended to be anodyne rather than a call to action.

the latest from Gregory Shill

It could have instead engaged Gregory Shill's recent writing, "Regulating the Pedestrian Safety Crisis." Streetsblog has a good summary in "Four Ways Automotive Regulators Could Save Pedestrian Lives."

A Roseville, CA dealer advertised here last fall

The paper is too much dependent on advertising from auto dealers for it likely to be genuinely critical of our autoism.

As we gear up for the update to our Transportation System Plan, pieces like this send the message that we don't really need to make very big changes. But that's the wrong message.


Well, what do you know. The author of the piece is fan of fast cars and writes puff pieces for the car industry.

from a couple of days ago - via Twitter

From the piece:

[I]t goes from zero to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) in 2.5 seconds. General Motors says it can cover a quarter mile in 10.5 seconds.

Although those figures are slightly faster than its race track-ready brothers, the Z06 and Z07, it’s civil enough for the daily commute even though its rear tires are almost wide enough to compete in the Indianapolis 500. [italics added]

Road safety is clearly not a principal interest for this writer.


anothervoice said...

Shill's piece emphasizes the impact of vehicle size and asserts that the NHTSA is asleep at the wheel. I agree and add that sound insulation and digital distractions add to the problem.

It has been proven that hands free phone use is unsafe but it is unrealistic to believe that lawmakers that use this feature would even consider taking action. Drivers whose complete attention is on driving are less likely to be involved in accidents. At least that is what I was taught and it still seems to make sense.

I have known for years that super bright headlights pose a serious threat. Every investigation of accidents on 2 lane highways should include information about how bright the headlights were on all involved vehicles, when possible.

It may be that the vehicle that caused the accident is not included in any report and the driver of the vehicle may not even be aware that an accident occurred, but public awareness of the problem could elicit responsible action by vehicle designers and government officials.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The AP reporter who wrote the piece is, it turns out, a kind of beat reporter and reviewer for the car industry, even a propagandist. Added a clip on a dangerously fast and powerful muscle car he wrote about a couple days ago. No wonder there was no interest in engaging an article like Shill's!

Anonymous said...

Still, interesting that the carhead reporter recognized that the covid caused drop in driving led to increased speeds that increased fatalities … that’s progress! “ With less traffic, speeds increased, as did reckless and impaired driving, leading to a record spike in deaths last year, authorities have said”

The recklessness was likely simple higher speed.

But, yes, going back to George Seldes and “The Brass Check,” it’s been understood that advertising supported media is a timid dog on a very short choke chain as far as any actual insights that might be adverse to advertisers goes.