Disclaimer: I actually do not believe that there should be a ban on human operated Motor Vehicles. I simply wrote this, with statistics and data that I can most assuredly assume will someday soon, come to a heated political debate over a group of people who believe that any motor vehicle operated by human beings should be banned in the name of safety. In the words of Steven Crowder, Change My Mind…
In the United States, for the year 2016 there were 37,461 deaths that occurred thanks to 34,439 fatal car crash incidents, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHSHLDI) which was taken from the U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Those are simply the fatalities, that does not really encompass other data such as: were the instances distracted/inattentive driving; Were drivers under the influence; Were any linked to safety failures or hardware/mechanical failures of the car itself; Were any of these in the elements of heavy rain/snow/ice; and so on.
Just for comparative purposes, Everytown For Gun Safety and Support Town, an organization that has been widely used to cite information and also contributed to the recent March For Our Lives event, gathers information from the CDC and FBI statistics. According to their estimation based off the numbers, Gun Homicides every year are almost 13,000, a marginally lesser number than car fatalities, in fact approximately 24,000 less. According to Everytown, it is roughly 96 Americans per day lost to gun violence, while Motor Vehicle Accidents roughly make up about 102 persons per day. If you think the numbers don’t add up, it’s because Everytown’s 96 per day estimation includes suicides, which even a quick Google Search of that fact will lead you to the New York Times of all places which will tell you practically two thirds (2/3rd) of gun related deaths are suicide.
That should not underplay the severity of suicides committed. The fact is that suicide typically isn’t accidental, rather it is an intentional act, and when factoring in someone’s state of mind or mental health when they have been pushed to the edge enough to be willing to take their own life, it becomes difficult, and there are so many what-if factors (including those who would be qualified in the assisted suicide category were that a legal option everywhere).
We could even phase out the suicides committed by firearm (according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2016 just over half of the suicides were committed by firearm: 51%). Think of Japan, a nation with a pretty strict law against most every type of gun except for hunting and sport and even then a lengthy process for obtainment, yet they still hold one of the higher rates of suicide in the world.
Just for the bigger picture, the CDC puts the total US suicide rate for 2016 at 44,965. Sure, a little over half of them were committed via firearms, but that leaves almost an equal number where a firearm was not used, and reasonably we cannot assume that had a firearm not been accessible that the people who used firearms would not have still attempted suicide (again, see Japan).
According to Statista, one the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 55 is, *bing bing bing*, you guessed it, Motor Vehicle Crashes, a statistic you can double check on worldlifeexpectancy.com, where you will see from teenage years up through about the age bracket of 55-60, Motor Vehicle Incidents are easily always in the top 5 causes of death, and almost always beating out homicides.
Now, I know what route you are going to take in arguing against me on America’s huge Motor Vehicle problem, and that is that in many of the cases of the motor vehicle, killing was not intent. I will submit to you that cars are not a person’s first choice when choosing to kill someone, nor is it when choosing to commit suicide, though the suicide rate for cars is higher than the homicide rate.
But then I see things, like the videos or memes about “what if guns were as regulated as cars?” and I am left baffled for more than a few reasons, first and foremost being that driving a car/operating a motor vehicle is not a Constitutional Right. If you wish to operate any sort of moving vehicle other than a bicycle on a public roadway, you have to obtain a license which you have to purchase and either pass a written and practical exam or complete a Driver’s Education course which STILL requires a written and practical exam. You, for all intents and purposes, have no “right” to drive, even though there are some of my Libertarian friends who would claim that the whole driving eligibility process is a monopoly by the government and shouldn’t exist (Different argument for a different time, and none of this talk encompasses the Right to Travel arguments, that is a whole different can of worms and research that can be explored some other time, just roll with me theory here).
So think of this, yes, cars and driving are heavily regulated and yet STILL we have an astronomical death rate, with the leading cause being accidental, which breaks into varying different statistical categories like negligence and distracted driving, aggressive driving, driving under the influence, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without insurance and so on.
Nearly 40,000 deaths, yet safety regulations, licensing, inspections, and insurance requirements only seemingly keep that “low” number just off of the highest 1972 number of 54,589.
Why do I bring this entire thing up? Because despite those numbers, despite distraction and technology, despite the overall lack of safety…Americans still get in the car, still have their cell phone in reach, and according to a Survey conducted by All-State in 2011, willingly admitted to finding themselves engaged in these dangerous activities:
- 89% driving faster than the posted speed limit; 40% admitting to over 20MPH over the posted limit (Ah, everyones doing it!)
- 45% driving while excessively tired (I work long hours I can’t help it)
- 15% driving while under the influence (…there is no justifiable reason)
- 1/3rd sending a text message or an e-mail while driving (It’s only 2 seconds looking away). By the way the demographic breakdown of this 1/3 of drivers:
- 63% of 18-29 year olds texting/driving
- 58% ages 30-44
- 25% ages 45-54
- 6% ages 55-64; 2% above the age of 65
- 7 out of 10 admit a distraction caused them to slam on their brakes and swerve to avoid an accident; miss a traffic signal, or actually cause an accident.
This does not begin to encompass other factors surrounding cars, like Fuel economy and pollution, the “carbon footprint” that you leave, if you will, but that cracks open the climate change debate which could blow this thing way in left field.
What I do know is the statistics. The National Safety Council breaks down your odds of dying:
1 in 91 for Suicide (#4 in the top 5 odds of dying, but the first one that isn’t some form of medical illness)
1 in 102 for Motor Vehicle Crashes
1 in 109 for Opioid Pain Killers
1 in 119 for…simply Falling down
1 in 285 for a Gun Assault
1 in 8,305 for an accidental gun discharge
That should not downplay someones point of saying even just one intentional death in cold blood by someone using a gun isn’t a worthy cause, because it is. It absolutely is a worthy cause. So is not wanting even one murder committed by knife, or blunt object, or bare hands. Do your odds change depending on the situation? Absolutely.
I am in no way suggesting that people haven’t done bad things with guns, or with cars, or knives, or with drugs, or with bombs, or with airplanes…but I am speaking honestly here. Car accident deaths lead in many demographics despite the fact that it is a common school subject in which kids are taught, and STILL Americans simply don’t care about it, sometimes willingly distracting themselves while driving with the odds ever high that their stupidity could possibly not only kill themselves but worse, others.
In all of that, however, I am not actually calling for a car ban, despite the fact that the data and statistics can all be lined up to make a compelling case that even though there are 220-ish million licensed drivers in the US, the risk is just simply too high: We’re all a bunch of douchebag cell phone checking speed gunnin’ distracted drivin’ bunch who won’t give up our cars.
Tell me I’m wrong…seriously, I don’t have any personal stake to claim, I just wrote it for S&G’s.