The SOV: ‘Morbid and mortal toll of sprawl’

Down with the single occupancy vehicle (SOV). We’ve built ourselves into a deadly, expensive mess. Sprawl is a killer. How we proceed in an effort to save lives by weening ourselves from auto-dependency will be vital to our salvation. 

From Public Square, a CNU Journal article:

A federal report this week revealed that traffic deaths have risen 9 percent over the last year and have totaled 19,100 in the first six months of 2016. More than 2.2 million people have been seriously injured in that time. The economic cost of those accidents is estimated annually at $410 billion, or 2.3 percent of gross domestic product.

Accidents? No. Crashes, yes. Engineering errors? Perhaps, but drivers need to be more accountable. Cut out the distracted driving too.

Road networks are expensive. They get even more expensive as they age. Why are we building new ones and expanding further away from our urban centers? Why not focus on more biking, walking, mass transit? Why do most people balk at local and regional projects that would help non-SOV transit but not think twice about approving massive, expensive, auto-centric road networks that steal our tax dollars and lead to too many unnecessary deaths.

We need a shift in thinking to save lives. For too long we have ignored the tragic fact that people are killing other people with their cars. More from the article:

We have designed and built thoroughfares for 50-plus years to allow drivers to feel comfortable driving carelessly. These thoroughfares, built with “forgiving design,” encourage drivers to step on the gas in highly populated urban areas, and pure physics increases stopping distances and impact forces geometrically. This design approach also sets the stage for complete automobile dependence, causing more people to drive more in more dangerous conditions.

Shocking. Sprawl will be the death of us.

Much of the blame has been placed…on distracted and drunk driving and rising vehicle miles traveled. The ‘elephant in the living room,’ the factor that nobody wants to talk about, is sprawl and the infrastructure of sprawl. The roads built to support sprawl, designed to modern safety standards, are contributors to the majority of US traffic deaths and injuries.

I recently wrote about a Strong Towns article that declared “Suburbia is a massive experiment, and millions of Americans are finding out that it doesn’t work. The numbers don’t add up for these families, and suddenly they’re behind on their mortgage, barely able to put gas in their cars and living in poverty.”

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