Guns and Cars

In 2016 in the United States, a total of 65,284 people under the age of 25 died, from all natural and artificial causes. Of these children, 24,005, or 37 percent, were killed in automotive collisions. This result was not an anomaly. It is a feature, not a bug, of our socio-economic order. Car crashes are the clear, long-standing #1 killer of American children. It is not a close contest, either.

On this day of rallies for sanity and democracy and public health, I think this literally unremarked fact is worth mentioning.

Maybe someday, we, the people, will shatter the Great Taboo on telling the truth about cars-first transportation in America. We’d better, because that core institution is speeding us to Carmageddon, whether we notice it or not.

How We Kill Our Children

skull After yet another school slaughter, the silenced majority of Americans may — in our market-totalitarian cultural and media ecology, it is no easy thing, so don’t bet on it — finally be getting outraged enough to deal some defeats to our gun-nut Know Nothing faction, which has, through the shamelessly pandering of the Republican Party, been running murderously amok for a couple of decades now.

Having said that, let us ponder a related fact that remains unmentioned and unmentionable in our society, yet might be of some interest to the actually sane and ethical: In the United States, the leading killer of young people is — by far — the supposed “freedom machine” known as the automobile.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, in 2016, a total of 3,969 high-school-aged children — kids aged 14-17, that is — died in U.S. car crashes.

For U.S. children aged 0-17, the 2016 car crash death toll was 9,787.

Adopting the biologically modern definition of childhood, which recognizes that the human brain actually reaches full maturity only at about age 25, we might also ask how many individuals aged 0-24 died on U.S. car crashes in 2016. The answer to that question is 24,005. That works out to 66 such deaths per day.

So, 3,969; 9.787; 24,005…and, although such numbers are utterly predictable and built into the very infrastructure of our famous way of life, despite our self-flattering talk about no child being left behind, only the crickets chirp about such satanic digits.

There’s a story to that, of course. Coherent reporting and analysis of the true costs and benefits our cars-first transportation order is, for pretty obvious reasons, anathema in mainstream politics and media. Unfortunately, due to its own fearfulness and vulnerability to long-running propanganda about the masses’ supposed “love affair with the automobile,” what passes for the political left has never yet dared to explain how directly and deeply the reign of the car in America expresses the preferences of our corporate capitalist overclass, not Joe and Jane Nascar.

As a result, the society, whole planet in tow, keeps speeding toward Carmageddon and our children keep paying the ultimate price. Without so much as a word, and to almost nobody’s outrage.

Cars Versus Kids

As current host of the nation’s biggest single advertising platform (the Super Bowl), NBC Sports Group has, according to today’s Advertising Age, done some extra research:

NBC analyzed the ads in the last four Super Bowls (2014-2017) based on 575 variables like creative messaging and structural elements. It then looked at the effectiveness of each ad based on five performance metrics: creative appeal, ad cut through, creative engagement, brand social and brand search. NBC will use these results to help guide advertisers on their Super Bowl creative.

Turns out that this research shows that:

If you want your Super Bowl ad to be a success, less is sometimes more. Don’t, for example, include both a puppy and a cute kid. For automakers, featuring children works best, while animals perform especially well for food and beverage brands.

So, let’s ompare and contrast, shall we, dear DbC reader?:

Item 1 — “For automakers, featuring children [in TV ads] works best.”

versus

Item 2

fatality table

This ranking, which is produced and published (but never actively emphasized) only very occasionally by the (Satanically mis-named) National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, has certainly not changed since 2002. As the NHTSA explains, the long-standing fact is this:

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in every age from 3 through 33 for both sexes combined. [emphasis added]

So: In America, associating children with the machine that is the clear #1 death threat to children is the #1 way to sell said machines.

Kid Killer

Per The New York Times, May 29, 2017:

The most common cause of death in children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury, and the most common cause of unintentional injury is car accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide — an average of 11 children a week. That number excludes pedestrians.

American Transportation

Taking a cue from R.J. Reynolds’ Joe Camel, Ford starts ’em early. It’s forthcoming $349 toy truck “can carry two passengers with a combined weight of up to 130 pounds, runs on a 12-volt battery, can drive off-sidewalk on wet grass and gravel, and comes with an MP3 jack and FM radio. The Extreme Sport version comes with LED headlamps that mimic those of the larger 2015 F-150.”

The accompanying promotional photo could hardly be an apter depiction of the essential childishness of our cars-first transportation order:

kiddie-car