The Orwellianly-named National Highway Traffic Safety Administration usually releases its final count of the annual U.S. death toll from car crashes in early August, when the fewest possible people are paying attention to the news.
This year, they are making a big deal out of their preliminary estimate of the 2009 fatality count. That’s because car-crash deaths last year fell to their lowest level since 1954. “This is exciting news!”, gushed US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
So, quiz question, folks: How many U.S. residents died in such a wonderful, exciting year for automotive collisions last year? 33,963. That’s 2,830 a month. That’s 653 a week. That’s 93 a day. That’s more than 11 times as many people as died in the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks.
But, it’s “exciting news,” rather than an unforgettable and unforgivable atrocity times eleven.
Why is that? If all people are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right not to be wantonly killed, then why is the disparity in our consciousness about the forces of evil so huge? What kind of a society treats 40,000 deaths a year from its main means of everyday mobility as “exciting news”? What kind of media parrots that remarkable interpretation? Why, for that matter, is Consumer Reports among those media?