Traffic deaths in the United States are at a 50-year high, despite a host of government efforts to the contrary.
According to data released by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year’s road deaths rose by 7.2% to an awful total of 35,092, more than the population of some cities. These stats hold true across all affected groups, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Nationwide hands-free laws have had the opposite effect
This spike in deaths has come at a time when 46 of the 50 United States have enacted texting-while-driving bans to cut back on distracted driving. Intended to disincentivize drivers from using their phones in ways that could put themselves, and other drivers, at increased risk of collision, the continuing increase in fatalities may be because drivers have simply shifted the location of their phones out of public view, arguably a much more dangerous position with far more limited road visibility. This remains a classic example of legislating a desired outcome without factoring in a basic understanding of the human behavioral patterns involved.
Police going to increasingly ridiculous lengths for “public safety”
In order to enforce these ineffective safety regulations, police have taken to some truly bizarre methods. Over the course of a five-day sting operation, police in Somersworth, New Hampshire posed as homeless and religious evangelists at stoplights, holding attention-grabbing signs and ticketing drivers who took a picture with their phones. It’s important to note that not only were the drivers at stoplights (and therefore not a danger to anyone), but were deliberately lured into using their phones where they otherwise may have had no intention to do so (which can be considered entrapment). Another fine example of wasting taxpayer money to enforce a pointless law in even more pointless ways.