As January of 2016 comes to an end, it’s time to check in on “Death Race 2016” to see how things stand. As of today 9 people have died in car related crashes in Greater Springfield, none within the borders of the city itself despite the fact that the city has more streets and has the highest total vehicle miles traveled in the region. 8 of the victims were motorists themselves, 1 was a pedestrian, 6 were men, 3 were women.
From a media perspective the year began with 9 deaths in 9 days (one pedestrian death occurring on New Years’s Eve) and yet not a single news report from any of the 3 major regional news outlets (Masslive/Republican, WWLP, WesternMassNews) ever mentioned the particularly deadly beginning of the new year. Also, not a single death was given an ordinal number, as in “this was the #th roadway fatality of the year” and not a single article on any of the fatalities referenced any of the other fatalities. I will say that the crash on Route 20 in West Springfield did get mentioned when there was a non-fatal crash the next day on the same section of the roadway.
On the other hand, there was 1 murder in Springfield. While I realize statistics don’t work this way, it was curious that Springfield has averaged a murder every 25 days (I know that because the media saturates us with such statistics) over the last few years and the year’s first murder took place on the 25th. Every news source reported it as the first homicide of the year:
The purpose of the data here is to give a more complete picture of dangerousness as it relates to living typology. That is to say that people have said to me on many occasions that one reason they choose to not live in an urban neighborhood is due to concerns about safety. I have pointed out that published, peer reviewed papers have shown that “stranger danger” increases as you move further from a metro center. However, as none of those studies specifically targeted my own metropolitan area, I am doing the best I can to collect that data.
My hypothesis is this: Most of the danger which people associate with urban areas is actually behavior and relationship connected in a causal way, whereas the place related correlations are not causal. At the same time, living in an auto centered place is actually dangerous in and of itself due to the death and mayhem caused by automobiles moving at high speeds and on certain road types.
Some examples of this might be that a drug dealer could be shot on the same street corner as a drug dealer was shot two years ago, but his shooting was not caused by being on that street corner, but rather by dealing drugs. A person walking by that street corner and being shot accidentally as two drug dealers try to shoot one another would be a place related death as drug dealers are more likely to be on that street corner, apparently, than some other one. The same holds for domestic violence, if a man murders his ex girlfriend then the death is not place but relationship connected, but if a bullet from the abuser’s gun travels through a wall and kills an unintended victim, that would be place related.
On the auto end of the spectrum, people drive the way they do, at the speeds they do, and among the obstacles they do because of the place in which they are driving and therefore any death due to a crash would be place related. Even a drunk leaving a bar and wrapping a tree around a pole is place related because living within walking distance of the bar on a street where cars drive slowly diminishes the likelihood of car crash death substantially.