The cost of the car in death and injury is typically measured by counting casualties per billion passenger-kilometres (/bn pass-km). While this practice presents hard facts, rarely disputed, it fails to count the full cost or to distinguish the innocent from those responsible.
For example, UK published statistics infer a figure for the car of approximately 5 deaths/bn pass-km, but this accounts for both passengers within the car and bystanders. The latter category mainly comprises pedestrians and cyclists. (Believe it or not, rail passengers also sometimes fall victim.)
As a result of mechanized road transport, cycling and walking have become by far the most dangerous modes of transport, with a comparable casualty rate of around 40 and 50, respectively. No wonder so many give up and buy a car.
The most devastating effect falls upon children, whose head is lower — about the height of the bonnet on a SUV. A significantly lower speed will be sufficient either to kill or leave them with brain damage.
More than 3,000 people die on the road each year in Britain. Over 40,000 – more than twice as many per capita – die in the USA. Around a fifth are children. That means two dead children, and two shattered families, each day.
Is all this acceptable in a truly civilized society?
If aviation caused as much harm – say, a fully laden jumbo crashing each month – would that be tolerable?