Here’s a chart from a recent New York Times op-ed column comparing the United states to a few other countries. Long story short, we have not made much progress in the last 20 years about improving our road safety.
Here’s the chart:
The Times piece lists a few reasons for this relative lack of progress, including the lack of speed cameras, the lack of “evidence-based campaigns,” low seatbelt use, higher drunk driving rates, and higher rates of teenage driving.
Here’s the punchline from the author, David Leonhardt:
The political problem with all of these steps, of course, is that they restrict freedom, and we Americans like freedom. To me, the freedom to have a third beer before getting behind the wheel — or to drive 15 miles an hour above the limit — is not worth 30 lives a day. But I recognize that not everyone sees it this way.
Which is part of the reason I’m so excited about driverless technology. It will let us overcome self-destructive behavior, without having to change a lot of laws. A few years from now, sophisticated crash-avoidance systems will probably be the norm. Cars will use computers and cameras to avoid other objects. And the United States will stand to benefit much more than the rest of the industrialized world.
Until then, be careful out there.
Hopefully these changes can happen, even before robot cars “save us”.