The reign of the automobile in the United States is imperiling the entire planet. Meanwhile, in 2005, a wholly typical year, automotive collisions took the lives of 43,443 residents of the United States. That is 119 people killed per day, almost four times the 32 people murdered this Monday at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Yet compare the media coverage. 119 deaths a day from crashes alone (there are also automobile-caused pollution and cardiovascular deconditioning deaths) in insane and optional machines are simply too “normal” (read: “profitable”) to report. This, despite the fact that, as reported by Wikipedia, “There have been no passenger fatalities due to derailments or collisions during operation of the Shinkansen [the Japanese bullet train network], including during earthquakes or typhoons, in its 40-plus year, 6 billion passenger history.” Now, can you say “senseless?”
Michael Dawson works for pay as a paralegal and sociology teacher in Portland, Oregon. He is presently writing a book, Automobiles Ueber Alles: Corporate Capitalism and Transportation in America, forthcoming from Monthly Review Press.