CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)

There’s an underlying tone of the passive voice (not to mention repeated use of the word “accident”) running through this Daily Beast dispatch Note the opening: “With summer driving season here, so is the deadliest part of the year on the road. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine the 100 interstates most likely to generate a fatal wreck.”

You see, it’s the interstates that generate the crashes, not the actions of drivers. It’s also questionable whether it makes sense to focus on interstate highways, which per mile driven rank among the safest of roads traveled. A further problem is the lack of any exposure data — “fatal accidents” per mile is a rather meaningless statistic when we don’t know how many people drove those miles.

A bit further down: “Summertime, when America traditionally takes to the road, carries with it a more somber tradition—’the 100 deadliest days’ of the year for drivers.” It’s makes it sound as if there were something about the days themselves that were somehow dangerous, rather than the actions — e.g., the increased alcohol intake over the Fourth of July — that actually lie behind these fatalities.

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 at 1:31 pm and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “The Accidental Journalist (an occasional series chronicling how predictable, preventable crashes are turned into accidents)”

  1. fred_dot_u Says:

    Thanks to your book and this blog, I’ve taken note of similar phrasing in the local papers and elsewhere. Dangerous roads, dangerous bike lanes, and as you’ve noted, dangerous days. It’s an amazing thing that human-kind has survived this long with all the dangerous inanimate objects around us!

    As a commuting cyclist, I’ve been told by people how dangerous the roads are. I’ve been told by one client that he’d seen me riding in the rain with dangerous trucks right behind me.

    A couple years ago, In Florida, a major series of crashes were the result of drivers entering an area of low to zero visibility on the interstate. It was blamed on weather, an out-of-control controlled burn, but the Highway Patrol handed out citations after an investigation. Oh, boy, were there some angry drivers and media discussions about that.

    Drivers, don’t take responsibility, blame it on the roads, the smoke, the weather, sheesh.

  2. Jim PE Says:

    Mr. Vanderbilt, did you say anything to the Daily Beast? I think you have enough visibility that they might listen to you.

  3. Sean P. Says:

    The Seattle Times recently published an article about the most dangerous places in the city for bicyclists. The article also included a link to a map of bicycle crashes. Not surprisingly, there was little correlation between the the “most dangerous spots” (usually avoided by cyclists for that reason) and the places with the most bicycle crashes (mostly places with relatively high amounts of both auto and bicycle traffic).

  4. plr Says:

    While I agree with this point when it comes to individual crashes (and this is a very common issue in reporting), I think you’re overreaching here. It makes sense to look at why there are more crashes on some roads or days than on others.

  5. Rich Wilson Says:

    I noticed that the AP referred to the death of Nelson Mandela’s great-grand daughter, hit by a drunk driver as an accident. A quick search now shows most headlines using ‘crash’, with the notable exception of NPR

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127760163&ft=1&f=1004

  6. Kate Says:

    From today’s Boston Globe, ‘“These are not accidents; these are crashes,’’ Sampson said. “They could have been avoided.’’’

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/06/23/police_say_traffic_details_have_grown_more_perilous/?page=full

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum
Toronto

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Communications.
Grand Rapids MI

 

 

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Twitter
June 2010
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930