Driving so Much

Another key reason Americans die so often in motor vehicle accidents is simply that they drive so much. In fact, even though increasing numbers of young people now rely on public transportation or ride-sharing apps rather than driving, overall more people drive more miles than ever before. As a result, even with the increased safety of motor vehicles, per capita rates of injuries and deaths from vehicles barely changed between 1966 and 2013—when they spiked higher as more people bought cell phones and began using them while driving. To date, legislators have failed to out- law the use of hands-free cell phones (which are almost as dangerous as other cell phones). Similarly, both vehicle and cell phone manufacturers have failed to install available technologies that by default restrict the use of cell phones inside moving vehicles, even though those technologies allow users to override the default settings.

Finally, Americans are particularly at risk from motor vehicle accidents be- cause they have far fewer transportation options than do citizens of other wealthy nations. Through a series of local and federal decisions, public transportation in this country has declined significantly since its apex in the 1920s. Trains and railroad tracks have decayed while federal dollars have subsidized high- way construction and motor vehicle production. Long-distance bus systems run for profit have eliminated money-losing connections to many smaller communi- ties. Meanwhile, cities spend billions for parking facilities, road construction, and road maintenance but offer bus service only to limited locations, during limited hours, and on a limited schedule. Consequently, whereas a French citizen can use publicly subsidized trains or buses to go to any town or city in France on any given day and probably at several different times, an American citizen often has no way to go by public transportation from one town to the next. For example, Phoenix, Arizona, is the sixth largest city in the United States but has no passenger rail service.

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