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Death Behind the Wheel

Although Americans love their automobiles, up to one in fifty will meet their end in one. Approximately 30,000 Americans die each year in road accidents. No one can estimate the number of deaths caused indirectly by pollution caused by automobile emissions; it is probably substantial. An automobile accident claims a human life in the United States every fifteen minutes, nearly a hundred each day. Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for children, teenagers, and young adults (up to the age of 29). The automobile accident rate is also particularly high among Native American populations.

The issue of “drunk driving” is open for nearly daily discussion in the United States. Various interest groups vie for attention on the question, so statistics are not reliable. As an example, some anti-alcohol organizations speak about alcohol being “involved” in an accident. This does not mean drinking caused the accident. Statistics aside, there is no question, however, that the mixture of alcohol (or drugs) and automobiles significantly raises the death and injury rate.

Another problem relating to automobile deaths is the phenomenon of “distracted driving.” Texting and cellular telephone use while driving have been implicated in a number of high profile accidents. Some states and communities have begun to ban cellular telephone use (other than hands-free) while driving. Despite this, studies have found that eating at the wheel causes the greatest level of distraction, and hence, presumably, automobile-related death.

To be fair, nearly all the issues relating to death and injury by automobile are not restricted to the United States, but affect countries all over the world.


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