Friday, February 13, 2009

100 Deaths a Day

If I told you there is an epidemic taking more than 100 lives a day would you be afraid, inquisitive, alarmed, outraged? Just over 100 people on average die each day in the United States as a result of car crashes. This epidemic is taking the lives of mothers, fathers, children, brothers, and sisters.

The recent coverage of air travel from the NTSB hearing on medical helicopter safety, to the miraculous landing of the airliner in the Hudson River, to today’s unfortunate and tragic airliner crash into a home in Buffalo, NY all highlight the obstacles ahead of us striving to reduce traffic related deaths and injuries.

Are car crashes deemed unavoidable or simply seen as the price we must pay for mobility? There is no doubt both of these plane crashes deserved a great deal of attention, but where is the public outcry and attention for those who die in car crashes?

I would argue if 100 people died each day as a result of national air travel in the U.S. there would be a public outcry to make air travel safer. The question remains as to how we harness individual outrage over traffic related deaths and injuries into a public outcry that can’t be ignored.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Traffic safety culture lags way behind air safety culture

There have been several significant media-reported accounts about the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing on medical helicopter safety. In light of revealed information indicating that in 2008, 29 people died in emergency helicopter crashes an NTSB Board Member said, “The recent accident record is alarming and it is unacceptable.” In contrast to the number of deaths each day from highway crashes and the manner in which the media and public view them, the difference is most striking. This overwhelmingly underscores our challenge and the different prevailing culture between air safety and traffic safety.