In corporate capitalist America, cars-first transportation has always been unquestioned. As a result, we have spent the largest part of the immense wealth that has flowed through our polarized, brutalized society in the last century building the vast automobile system with which we remain stuck. It is by far the biggest, costliest public works project in human history — not even close. It has always been devoted to serving its central purpose, too, which, contrary to long-running propaganda claims, has NOT been transportation, but rather maximum profit for business owners.
Yesterday, The New York Times published a story about new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Take a look at the video embedded in this story. It is heart-stopping, at several levels.
This extreme violence is what we have been trained to accept as not just normal, but “an emblem of the American spirit” and a confirmation that capitalism is the best of all possible social systems.
It won’t be long before we recognize, one way or another, how very insane we’ve been, ecological, socially, and, yes, economically…
The main IIHS finding, by the way, goes unreported by the NYT:
The death rate in 1-3-year-old minicars in multiple-vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars. The death rate per million 1-3-year-old minis in single-vehicle crashes during 2007 was 35 compared with 11 per million for very large cars. Even in midsize cars, the death rate in single-vehicle crashes was 17 percent lower than in minicars.