he fact that
almost 42,000 people were killed last year, innocent victims, in violent
deaths and millions more are injured, often severely crippled, simply going
about their daily business in or near automobiles should, and will, create
a groundswell of rage to force solutions to be enacted by those who sit
passively and watch the horror. We need efficient and affordable public
transportation nationwide, safe (truly safe) automobiles, and laws that
give law enforcement agencies the ability to protect and control drivers
and passengers on roads and highways. Perhaps a memorial like the Viet
Nam Veterans Memorial would make and keep people aware of the number of
people who have been killed in and by automobiles. The design of such a
memorial will be difficult, however, for thousands of names will have to
be added each month.
The most severe problem facing the citizens of the United States today, the greatest threat to public safety, and one of the most dire, unbelievable catastrophes in history continues, unabated, and the death toll is rising at the rate of 115 per day. 41,471 people were killed by automobiles in 1998, and 3,192,000 were injured. A disaster of this magnitude needs immediate and drastic action. The simple act of transporting a child to school or to the library or to visit relatives has become like an act out of a violent horror story.
We citizens are responsible. We must hold the government accountable, at the federal, state, and local level. Write them, informing them of your concern. Monitor their voting record on issues of public transportation, automobile safety , traffic law, and funds for law enforcement of traffic violations , and vote accordingly.
Let the automobile industry know, with your voice and with your wallet, that our lives, our children's lives, are more important than their profit margin. Encourage them to take the steps necessary to make automobiles safe. Forty-two thousand lives should not be an acceptable standard in determining that cars and trucks are safe enough. Redesign is what is called for, instead of band aid measures, and fights to reduce or limit safety standards to decrease costs. As they build more and more large vehicles, appealing (falsely) to our instinct for self preservation, the death toll will increase as these larger and heavier vehicles share the road with smaller, more vulnerable vehicles. Many auto company advertising campaigns now play to our worst impulses, promoting speed and aggression, over safety and civility.
Appeal to the media to report what
is truly important to all of us, what the real dangers are, perhaps with
regular features, reporting accident data, status of laws and the stands
of proponents and opponents, auto industry efforts to apply, or discourage,
true safety standards, and reports on law enforcement efforts in combating
unsafe driving and preventing disasters and, perhaps most important, use
their forum to educate us in what safe driving measures are. Encourage
law enforcement officials and officers to apply their resources where the
data declares they belong, in the enforcement of traffic safety, and to
treat unsafe driving as the criminal act that it is.
These and other measures are critical if we wish the death, injury, and phenomenal taxpayer property loss to cease, but the government, the heads of the automobile industry and its subsidiaries, and the media will take action only if we let them know loudly and unceasingly that we are outraged and won't stand for it. But the most important thing we can do as citizens who care for life over greed or speed is to recognize the great responsibility of piloting 3000 to 6000 pounds of steel down a roadway upon which lives are dependent upon you and your actions. Think, when the need to hurry arises: is it worth risking someone else's, a child's, life? Obey the speed limits, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, don't weave in and out of traffic in what will be a futile, and possibly fatal, effort to save a few minutes or seconds, and drive especially cautiously in residential areas, or areas where children and other pedestrians are vulnerable. Of the 5412 pedestrians and 761 pedal cyclists killed by automobiles in 1996, 666 of the pedestrians killed were children, and 223 of the pedal cyclists killed were children (0 to 14 years). Our lives, our children's lives, are at stake when we are behind the wheel.
Please, help spread the word. Write the President, the Vice President, the First Lady, your Congressperson, your Senator, your state and city elected officials, auto companies, your local and national newspapers, local law enforcement officials, friends and relatives. Make a noise and make a change. Visit links for more information, and places to begin making your voice heard.
Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive Driving List of Automakers' E-Mail and Addresses: So that you can write them directly and express your concern about this dangerous practice.
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