Politics: Death Machines

I don’t care about guns. They are a huge topic of debate and people get REALLY worked up. I just can’t bring myself to fight for it. I know enough people who are intelligent, responsible gun owners that I can’t bring myself to think “oh dear god – guns!”  I think there is a far more insidious killer in our midst. The reason I think this deadly weapon needs to be addressed is sheer statistics.  Let me start by sharing the stats from the FBI from 20022012*

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Total firearms: 9,528 9,659 9,385 10,158 10,177 10,129 9,528 9,199 8,874 8,583 8,855

Man that DOES look kind of terrible. But you know, the deadly weapon I fear has these stats from the same years:

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
38,491 38,477 38,444 39,252 38,648 37,435 34,172 30,862 30,296 29,867 30,800

In case you can’t look at these numbers and know what death machines I’m talking about: cars. Motor vehicles. Petro-guzzlers. Diesel chuggers. Whatever you choose to call them, in my world I call them death machines.  Depending on the size I’ll usually say either a one-ton death machine or a two-ton death machine. And yes, I call my lovely Honda Fit MY one-ton death machine.

Now, there are trends you can track (and the NHTSA does) – how many were drunk drivers? What type of vehicles are involved? I think those are not the questions you should be asking.  You should be looking at the fact that car “accidents” cause greater than 300%** of the deaths of guns and it’s not really dropping.

I want lawmakers to address THIS danger – because this is a danger I am far more likely to face than guns. Even living in Georgia which is supposedly crawling with guns.  You know what Georgia is really crawling with? I deal with them every single day – traffic. Cars. Congestion. And it’s not like I have good options to ditch-the-stick (if I had a manual car of course…)  We have horrible public transit.  I mean, I love MARTA when possible-  but it is sooooo limited. I live “close” to a train station and I’m TWO MILES away. That is “close” – and the buses are not consistent or regular. Public transit is a different rant. Today it’s death machines.

My solution:

  1. require re-licensing. Both the written and driving test. Law change. People forget.
  2. make it damn expensive to re-take if you fail it (yes, I am for making adults study again).
  3. deal harsh penalties for driving without a license (yes, all about the stick here)
  4. Georgia’s state legislature needs to tell a few counties to suck it up and expand MARTA rail lines to give better coverage in the metro-Atlanta area (at the least). (Other metro areas need to figure out their own problems… I don’t have the experience or knowledge to comment on why YOU don’t have transit)
  5. lastly, pay for this with some tolls into the city.  You want to DRIVE downtown? You get to pay for it (you know, like most metro areas do).  With expanded rails, those who choose to drive would (a) have fewer cars to deal with in these “congestion spots” of tolls and (b) the toll could help supplement the cost of expanding the public transit system.

People treat driving as a right – like breathing. It isn’t. It is a privilege and with it comes great responsibility to everyone around you. I see people do stupid things almost every day and I always think (sometimes even say aloud) “Thank God some of us are driving safely and we can prevent your stupidity from killing us all.”

There isn’t even a constitutional amendment people can argue applies to “cars”.  End the reign of the death machines today.

*Good statistics are hard to get quickly… so we have to go back a few years, but I expect the pattern will be clear. The year of 2007 got pulled from the 2011 data chart for anyone checking out my links.

** Comparison of the firearms to cars statistics:

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Total firearms
(not suicides):
           9,528            9,659            9,385          10,158          10,177          10,129            9,528            9,199            8,874            8,583            8,855
Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes          38,491          38,477          38,444          39,252          38,648          37,435          34,172          30,862          30,296          29,867          30,800
Percentile difference: 404% 398% 410% 386% 380% 370% 359% 335% 341% 348% 348%
Total Murders (all weapons): 14,263 14,465 14,210 14,965 14,990 14,916 14,224 13,752 13,164 12,795 12,765
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