In 2002 the British Medical Journal ran a piece entitled "War on the Roads". Dramatic (overly?) perhaps, but the subject of casualties on the roads, and just how those are reduced, through who to target, is always likely to spark debate (despite the fact logic dictates you start at the biggest and work downwards). Of the replies the BMJ received there was one that stood out while reading through them. The reply may have been published 9 years ago, but John T Dwyer hit the nail so firmly on the head that its retained pertinence was worthy of repeating to another audience.
You can find all of the responses, and the original article that sparked them, by clicking this link.
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It’s galling to read so many complaints about political correctness in a journal like the BMJ. But the complaints do at least illustrate the extent of driver unreason.
Normally you can write off Anti-PCs as people who can’t bear the idea that more enlightened times have put their abnoxious attititudes beyond the pale. The Anti PCs may insult people whose skins, or accents, or origins, or sex, are different from their own but the physical harm they do is limited unless, as occasionally happens, they provoke others to commit violence against them.
Here, as elsewhere, they blame the victim. But this time the victim is not merely reviled. The victim is injured or dead. And they shouldn’t be.
It is not good enough to argue, as Bernard C Abrams does, that TB or coronary heart disease kills more people. Far more children are killed by cars than by predatory paedophiles but we don’t accept the latter risk as ‘tolerable’ on that account.
If you analyse the assumptions drivers have to make before they assert that road safety campaigners are being unreasonable, you have to conclude that drivers believe not just that their business is inherently more important than that of anyone on foot, but that their business is inherently more important even than the lives of anyone on foot. There is no other explanation for their attitudes. Scratch a driver and you find someone who really believes he or she has the right to kill people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.