Pop quiz. What's the number one killer of kids in the world?
No. Not the scary murderer on the 11 o'clock news.
Not some disease with a hard to pronounce name.
It's cars. More young people are killed on roads than anywhere else. This is true WORLDWIDE.
In America the numbers are pretty grim. Every day 6 children age 14 and under are killed on U.S. roads, while another 670 are injured. That's 2,200 children dead each year and a staggering 245,000 injured.
Most of this carnage is accidental. But all of it is totally avoidable. Speed is usually the fundamental reason for these deaths. A child hit at 25 mph has a 90 percent chance of surviving. If he is hit at 40 mph his survival rate is less than 10 percent.
This year One Less Car has been doing its best to raise the profile of the road safety issue in Maryland. We supported bills in Annapolis that would have increased the penalties for reckless motorists and we put a lot of effort into passing a requirement that motorists give 3 feet when passing bicycles. Both of these measures failed.
In our opinion these bills would have made Maryland roads a safer place for all users (including motorists). The fact that they failed to make it out of committee is a disgrace. It's disheartening that so many of our elected representatives seem so ignorant of how dangerous our car culture has really become.
As the weather gets warmer and more of us are out walking and biking give some consideration to how you would make the case for safer roads to your state delegate or senator. Think about your neighborhood and how much better it would be with fewer and slower cars. Do you think you could make your elected representatives listen? We'll need your voice during the next General Assembly session.
Meanwhile, take a look at the website of the Make Roads Safe Campaign <a href="http://www.makeroadssafe.org/">http://www.makeroadssafe.org/</a> . They are tackling the problem on a global scale. If you have time, please sign their petition for safer roads in developing countries. Every name helps.
Richard Chambers, Executive Director