By David Brown Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, April 20, 2007
Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24 around the world -- a huge, overlooked and largely preventable public health problem, the World Health Organization said yesterday.
In a new report, the organization promoted a long list of suggestions to developing countries, where most of the deaths and disabling injuries occur. The improvements include safer roads and vehicles, better urban planning, helmet laws, prosecution of speeders and drunken drivers, better education of the driving and walking public, and simple interventions such as putting reflective tape on backpacks.
"It is a big public health issue for kids, and we can do something about it," said Etienne Krug, a physician who heads WHO's department for injury and violence prevention.
As does most of the public health world, WHO eschews the term "traffic accidents." In a statement accompanying the report, the organization's new director-general, Margaret Chan, said that "road traffic crashes are not 'accidents.' We need to challenge the notion that they are unavoidable."
If we ban cars, then we'll be forced to use public transportation...which would reduce auto accidents (and thus, make the WHO happy), road rage incidents and ultimately reduce gas prices here from decreased demand. Many would embrace cycling to their various destinations. People would start walking to the grocery store three blocks away...and might even speak to the people they meet. A sense of community would grow in areas where people now don't know their neighbor's names. Heck, we might even get a comprehensive rail system going nationwide once again. Hey, this could be a good thing! Let's go for it!
After all, we wouldn't be restricting travel, just the mode of transportation.
"A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age." Jim Steinman, "Everything Louder Than Everything Else."