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Traffic Deaths Missing from Political Platforms of Both Parties

More than 38,000 people were killed in traffic accidents last year. (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile)
More than 38,000 people were killed in traffic accidents last year. (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile)
July 19, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Republican and Democratic party platforms this year are addressing trade, gun violence, even pornography. But the parties aren't addressing one of the country's biggest killers: traffic accidents. Last year, more than 38,000 people were killed and 4.4 million seriously injured in traffic accidents, according to the National Safety Council.

Founder of the news site, Consumer Affairs, Jim Hood said people in the U.S. die from gun violence and in cars at about about equal rates each year. However, one of those issues receives much more attention from politicians.

"There's a lot of commotion and political turmoil and heated debate over the gun death situation but really not much over traffic deaths," he said.

The National Safety Council's report shows Oregon saw the biggest jump in traffic fatalities of any state last year, increasing by 27 percent. Nationwide, deaths increased by 8 percent, making it the deadliest year on the road since 2008.

Hood said the interests of the auto industry could account for some political apathy on the issue. The campaign finance tracking site Open Secrets notes that candidates from both parties have received $15 million from the auto industry over the past year. That's $2 million more than the parties received from gun-rights groups, according to the site. Hood said one way to combat some of the auto industry's influence could be through public awareness campaigns.

"Mothers Against Drunk Driving had a lot of success 20 years ago or so with campaigning for more crackdowns on drunk drivers, but it's going to take something like that, I think, to get this moving again," he added.

The National Safety Council urges people to avoid driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs or drowsiness. The Council also warns against distracted driving, saying that even hands-free devices can distract and threaten drivers' safety.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR