Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 20th, 2010 at 10:40 am
“… a far more common sight than a chassis shattered in an explosion is now one destroyed in a nasty crash.”
— The Economist
The Economist, one of the world’s leading news magazines, has an article in this week’s issue that really caught my attention (it actually had several, but this one is relevant to BikePortland).
Turns out that that car crashes (unfortunately referred to as “accidents” by The Economist), are now more dangerous than war in Baghdad. According to their story, “the health ministry estimates that six times as many people now die in car accidents as fall victim to political violence.”
Apparently in Baghdad, “reckless driving is the norm.” What’s worse, is that it appears Americans are exporting their disregard for road safety to countries we invade/occupy/are at war in. The Economist reports that one major problem that is leaded to deadly car wrecks is “A tendency to beat the traffic by driving up the wrong side of the road—learnt from American security contractors…”
Interestingly, the reporter posits that Iraqis’ relationship with “imminent death from a bomb or a bullet” has leaked into their view of roads as a battlefield; and this isn’t about insurgents and car bombs, which remain a threat the Economist says, “But a far more common sight than a chassis shattered in an explosion is now one destroyed in a nasty crash.”
And if you think we’ve got it tough here in America trying to get folks to improve their behavior on the road, Baghdad has its own set of unique challenges:
Nonetheless, there are limits to the government’s commitment to road safety. Politicians, security forces and American military convoys (often with Iraqi escorts nowadays) still tend to drive down the middle of Baghdad streets, forcing everybody else to stop. And on December 15th the Karrada district was congested for hours when roads were sealed off for the official opening of the new headquarters of the traffic police.
Read the full article here.