Set the terrorist alert level to red! I’d say that anyone who physically crushes a random American with a heavy metal instrument is a terrorist. Others might just dismiss these deaths as routine traffic accidents, but you should be much more terrified of traffic than of Jihadists.
The good news according to a VOX article by researchers at the Sustainable Cities Research Group is that American traffic safety has improved over the past 40 years when it was the best traffic safety record in the world. YEA! Unfortunately, they say that:
A jump in traffic fatalities over the past two years has brought well-deserved media attention to this tragic aspect of American life. Such deaths are up 7 percent in 2015, and 10 percent for the first six months of 2016 — a phenomenon news outlets are describing as “surprising,” “sudden,” and “unexpected,” an unpleasant departure from the historic trend toward greater safety. We are on track to kill 38,000 vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians in 2016….
[Americans] now have traffic fatality rates per person that are three to four times greater than those in the best-performing peer countries — including Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands.
Here is a graph of the data. It should use fatality rates rather than absolute numbers, but the relative trends would still be true. Plus, one reason for the decline in fatalities is the improvement in medical treatment. The number of severe injuries is many times the number of deaths.
In contrast, according to the New America Foundation, in the fifteen years after 9/11, jihadists have only killed 94 people inside the United States. If Islamic terrorism were plotted on this graph it would look like a line at zero except for a tiny blip (relative to traffic deaths) in 2001 due to the 9-11 attack.
The Sustainable Cities Research Group gives three reasons why all other rich nations are doing better at avoiding traffic fatalities than the US:
a) they live more compactly,
b) their road design favors more vulnerable users such as bikers and pedestrians, and
c) they have enacted laws and regulations that also favor these vulnerable road users.
Some of the blame for the second two problems is due to the first. Americans live less compactly because American laws force Americans and real estate subsidies bribe Americans to live farther apart from each other than in any other rich nation.
The main problem is the sprawl of American cities because 82% of Americans live in cities and even more Americans drive to cities to work. Americans don’t drive more because we are a bigger nation. America is more urbanized than many other rich nations including Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and Britain. America is about as urbanized as the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated nations on earth. The big difference is that American cities are much more sprawling than in other rich nations and this forces Americans to drive farther to work each day which encourages road designs that are more dangerous and laws that favor higher vehicle speeds rather than favoring safety. Even Canada and Norway have more compact cities despite the fact that they have lower population density than the US.
The same reasons also help explain why Americans are more obese than people in any other rich nation. We walk and cycle less than in other countries because our streets are more dangerous and less pleasant for walking and cycling. You can even find evidence for this within America because American are less obese in cities with higher ratios of pedestrians to automobiles like New York City.
This is one more reason to change zoning laws and stop forcing Americans to live in sprawling communities.