20 March 2010

Fewer Cars Means Fewer Traffic Fatalities

Driving can seriously harm you and others around you
February 2010 was a banner month for traffic fatalities in Denmark. 'Only' 13 people died in traffic accidents in February. The record low for a month is 12, back in January 2006. February 2009 saw 22 deaths.

The reason is the hard winter and the countless snowstorms we've had in this country. Fewer people ventured out onto the streets in their cars, opting instead for other transport forms. And traffic moved slower because of the conditions.

This little bit of news was splashed around the media here. It's good news, absolutely.

I just continued to be fascinated that no one mentions two very simple observations.

1. Fewer cars on the roads equals fewer traffic fatalities.
2. Slower moving cars on the roads equals fewer traffic fatalities.

This logic just doesn't register in the media or the Road Safety Council. Ignoring the sacred bull in society's china shop thrives even here in Denmark.

No one is saying, "Hey! Why can't we have fewer fatalities ALL YEAR?! Now we know how!"

There is no talk of reducing speed limits and implementing 30 km/h zones in our cities, despite scores of European cities having done it or planning to do it. There are shockingly few campaigns to get people to choose other transport forms in their daily lives. Instead the 'authorities' choose the cheap bubble-wrap approach to traffic 'safety'.

The national goal is reducing the number of traffic fatalities to a magic number of 200 per year. At the moment it's around 400 on average. This will never happen unless we start selling cycling and public transport positively and start taming the bull.

But we are gripped by The Culture of Fear and we're loving it. Lapping it up.

Here's a re-post of what slow-moving traffic looks like outside my window. If only it were every day.