Hopefully it’s obvious that I went for a real-timey “accumulate the data as you go” experiment with my Death Race 2016 feature in order to make clear both that I was not cherry picking the data, and that I was confident enough in my understanding of the veracity of my assertions that I was willing to put them to the test. “5x” or 500% seems to be the traffic fatality to urban violence relationship that has presented itself. There have been 9 deaths in Springfield categorized by law enforcement as homicides so far this year (one seems much more like a case of accidental death or manslaughter) and at least 51 deaths on the roadways of greater Springfield.
The stranger danger numbers jump out even more with 31 of the traffic deaths involving strangers, but only 1 homicide being described as random in nature. I started this without any idea how close the numbers would be because local media creates a narrative out of urban violence, even defining down what qualifies as newsworthy…or narrative worthy…if things get too peaceful all the while NEVER making connections between vehicular incidents even when as many people died as there had been days in the new year all through the first week of January. In retrospect I realize now that those deaths entailed a ridiculously anomalous concentration of carnage. On the other hand I’ve seen the same media outlets go out of their collective minds when two homicides “almost” took place on the same day!
This week’s road deaths hit close to home; one on a roadway that my family and I traversed just 24 hrs later returning from a wedding and diverting for some late season apple picking (see photos), and another involving the death of a little girl while attempting to exit a school bus. Had a 26 year old young man and a 9 year old girl both been murdered in Springfield in the last week their deaths would have been connected even if the 26 year old had been dealing drugs and the 9 year old had been killed by an estranged parent. The differing motives, modes, and means of death would have been blurred together and neighbors would have been queried about their fear levels given these murders whether or not they were in gangs or were involved in a domestic dispute.
On the other hand how many people have “20 something” children who, we might worry, are trying to balance vehicular control and social media presence in places like this?
How many parents have kids hopping on and off school buses every day with drivers more focused on the cars anxious to wiz around them and get past them than on the children in their charge on tediously long roadways like these?
I won’t even bother to look for the story connecting these or any other specific incidents on our highways and byways.Whatever news pieces are run on the dangers of texting and driving, experience has tought me that even as as many people dying in just the first month of the year on local roads as have been murdered through 3/4 of the year in Springfield isn’t worthy of a single news piece from any media outlet regarding the new normal of a return to increasing numbers of roadway deaths.
I know, for regular readers there’s a redundancy about this message, but I don’t apologize for it. It goes so far beyond just an awareness of the facts; what people believe about danger is making them take actions which increase, undeniably, the likelihood of premature death, but those decisions also involve them migrating further and further, both literally and figuratively, from the lifestyle we must embrace if we hope to perpetuate this experiment we call civilization.