WMAL hate talk radio gets all excited about a new safety report:
WASHINGTON -- The Governors Highway Safety Association says pedestrian deaths increased in the first half of 2010 and the First Lady's program to get Americans to be more active could be partly responsible.
Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is "trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more. While that's good, it also increases our exposure to risk."
Hmm, they are quoting a spokesman - why do our nation's governors hate Michelle?
James Joyner shifts the focus from Michelle to Steve Jobs:
Via Dr. Google, I see “The Governors Highway Safety Association says in the report that 1,891 pedestrians were killed in the first six months of 2010, up from 1,884 in the same period in 2009 — a 0.4 percent increase. ” Now, I don’t know the historical variation in these things, but I’d say offhand that this is a statistically insignificant swing. Regardless, a variety of factors — alcohol, technology, and road design among them – seem to be considered possible explanations for the slight reversal in trend.
Well - here is the news release and the official report (14 page .pdf). Let's clip this chart of the "trend" - basically, there was no trend from 1999 to 2005; subsequently, the Safe Route To School program is credited with reducing deaths among kids walking to and from school.
The role of alcohol in pedestrian fatalities has not changed over the past ten years. In both 1998 and 2008, 42% of fatally-injured pedestrians had a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (NHTSA, 2009b, Table 4). Sixteen states believe that drunk or impaired pedestrians are not an increasing problem while only three states believe that they are.
Steve Jobs is implicated:
Several current lifestyle trends may affect pedestrian crashes and fatalities. Both drivers and pedestrians are increasingly distracted by cell phones and other portable electronic devices.
Michelle is implicated but not directly named (my emphasis):
A focus on liveable communities, or “get moving” health and fitness programs may increase walking and pedestrian-vehicle conflicts, as noted by Florida, Indiana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Texas. If pedestrians or motorists are distracted, the potential for crashes increases.
Society is indicted - we may all be more homicidal, or experiencing a reduced will to live:
Similar broad social and economic factors also affect total traffic fatalities. It’s possible that the turnaround in pedestrian fatalities – the end of four years of decreases – suggests that the same will be true for total traffic fatalities. Pedestrian fatalities began their four-year decrease in 2006 (Figure 1), the same year that total fatalities began to decrease (NHTSA, 2009a, Table 2). NHTSA’s early estimates are that total traffic fatalities increased by 2.5% in the third quarter of 2010 compared to the same quarter of 2009: the first quarterly increase after 17 consecutive quarters of decreases (NHTSA, 2010a).
It seems ridiculous to blame Michelle for highway deaths; I blame Barack, although others will blame Sarah.
The report emphasizes that their statistics have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny, so their suggestions as to causes amount to informed speculaton.
A chart is included which shows pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2009 and 2010 by state. FWIW, the biggest upswings (on an absolute basis) were in Arizona and Florida; that ties in to the "get moving" retirement community theory. Of course, it would make a lot more sense to look at proportional changes and it would be even better to know something about the age of the victims. One hopes that time will tell.
Bus as a last thought, maybe we ought to be blaming Joe Biden - careful inspection reveals that Delaware had 4 pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2009 and 12 in 2010. That increase of eight exceeds the entire national increase of seven. Hmm...
MORE: Brain lock at the Daily Caller, which tells us that
Pedestrian deaths increased sharply during the first half of 2010, according to the GHSA