Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Innocent victims

Ten days or so ago, the nation recoiled in horror.  A monster/madman rained terror down on country music fans in Las Vegas, murdering 58 innocent people and injuring hundreds in a matter of minutes.  Before the victims had even been accounted for, there were impassioned demands for action!

We need new laws!  Implements of death and destruction - in this case guns - MUST be kept away from criminals and incompetents, and maybe everybody!  What kind of irresponsible people could possibly be against further action to prevent such incidents?!!

Mostly I think we feel helpless.  As of this writing, the motive of the killer is still a mystery.  And when there's not a discernible motive or some sort of attention-getting activity prior to the mayhem... how do you prevent it?  Are we all going to go through metal detectors and intense scrutiny now, when we check into a hotel?  Is that a price we're willing to pay, to mitigate the one-in-ten-million madman?

But - at the same time - every week, we seem mostly willing to look the other way when more people are victimized by distracted drivers.

In 2015, according to the NHTSA, 3477 people were killed in fatal distracted-driving mishaps.  That's about 67 per week - almost 10 every day.  Furthermore, it's estimated that 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers (about 7500 per week - more than 1000 per day).


Many of the perps were distracted by their so-called "smart phones."  I believe you see more people driving nowadays with phone in hand, than those who have both hands on the wheel.  Remember?  The way you learned in driver-ed?

But apparently that's not enough.  The auto industry is attracting buyers with shiny-bright touch-sensitive console-mounted "infotainment systems" in new cars!  You've seen 'em in the commercials - they give you directions... tell you which track is playing on the 18 650-watt speaker system... control the climate... maybe even let you watch a movie or hilarious YouTube cat videos.

What could go wrong?

Apparently, a lot.  University of Utah researchers studied the infotainment in 2017 automobiles, and concluded that "most... distract drivers too long to be safely operated while the vehicles are in motion."  Programming your navigation takes about 40 seconds to complete, for example.  Yet, "the risk of a crash doubles when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds."  Story HERE.

Far, far more innocents are killed by distracted drivers, than by crazed killers with bump-stock-equipped semi-automatic assault rifles.  Both are tragic, and are blights on our society... but honestly, which is the more serious and pervasive problem?