Recently, within the last 6 months, two major commercial airplanes have crashed resulting in the death of 346 human lives. These crashes, while absolutely devastating, have resulted in grounding the entire fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes worldwide. These actions have been taken, and the fleet will remain grounded, until confidence is regained that these airplanes can be safely operated while preventing future loss of life. It would appear from these actions, that death by airplane is an unacceptable way to die!
But what about human lives lost in automobile crashes?
The total number of human lives lost to automobile crashes in the U.S. exceeds 2,600,000 lives from 1957 to 2017. This is something that absolutely should not be tolerated. You would agree if you had lost a loved one in a needless car crash. Having lost an unborn child to a car crash years ago, my wife still finds it just as devastating today as it was when it first happened.
More specifically in the U.S., over the last 10 years on average, approximately 94 human lives are lost each day of the year. This means that every 4 days more human lives are lost in automobile crashes than were taken on the two commercial airline crashes mentioned above.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), will expend untold amounts of resources to prevent future airline crashes from occurring but does not spend a commensurate amount of time and resources to stop death by automobile. The word “transportation” in NTSB can be equally applied to automobiles as well as airplane crashes.
What is the difference between human lives lost associated with flying versus automobile crashes? Easy answer: none.
So, what do we do? Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. Clearly the driving population does not think it is a problem or the human death rate due to car crashes would already be substantially reduced to the very minimum possible.
The answer to this problem is not to assume it will only happen to someone else. For a comparison ask any parent from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut if they thought their child would be lost to a mass school shooting? Recently a father of one of those children committed suicide still grieving, after 7 years, from that loss.
Driving safely in a car is everyone’s responsibility, and it can be done successfully on a continuous basis provided all of us understand the potential for loss or degradation of human life that exists every day you get into your automobile.
Allowing people to use cell phone, text message, eating, drinking, putting on makeup and even “no hands” phone calls while driving is a recipe for disaster like carelessly playing with a loaded gun. Unfortunately, many driver’s lives and/or their loved ones have been lost due to someone else’s careless disregard during the operation of their vehicles.
We must have a change of attitude in the United States (actually worldwide) regarding human death by automobile or unfortunately you or your family could be the next statistic. We must each take driving in an automobile seriously. There is no “Silver Bullet” to make this problem go away other than raising awareness and disdain for preventable losses.
We can all drive defensively but we must do it collectively “on purpose.” After all, driving safely is no accident.
Steve Dziadik is the owner and instructor of Driving School of Florida.