Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Aw, come on folks -- you're not trying hard enough."

Those were the subversive words of 1950s television humorist George Gobel when he signed off one holiday weekend by citing the traditional wire service reports of how many auto fatalities had occurred while people were celebrating.

I was reminded of that when news came out recently that last year the number of traffic fatalities was down to 34,000 a year. In Gobel's day, it was well over 40,000 every year.

To what can we attribute this other than folks not trying hard enough to kill themselves?

Well, the price of gasoline may have curbed (or braked) the number of trips, but still the number of deaths per million miles traveled indicates something is afoot (besides a Toyota accelerator.)

Let me suggest one long-term reason for a decline in auto fatalities.

Big government.

  • Highways are safer
  • Cars are built to stricter safety regulations
  • Almost everyone wears a seat belt.
  • Young children are required to ride in car seats.
  • States have passed stronger anti-drunk-driving legislation.
  • Some states and localities have raised the age for getting an unlimited driver's license.

This downward trend has been notable for several years because not too long ago the annual death toll from car crashes fell below the number of annual deaths from handguns.

# # #

Another instance of not trying hard enough comes from the University of Chicago alumni magazine, which reports on a campus contest to name a new cafe and convenience store.

Among the entries was "Life of the Grind," "In Caffeino Veritas" and "The Allegory of the Crave."

The winner? The Midway Market.

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