Don’t get me wrong…

Seriously, I’m glad Osama bin Laden is dead.

Even though this may be the first time the death of another human being has made me truly and unapologetically happy.

But let’s keep things in perspective.

Just under 3,000 people died on 9/11/2001.

That same year, over 14 times that many people died in traffic collisions; 42,109 to be exact.

And in the years that followed, from 2001 to 2009, 369,629 people died on American streets. Roughly 100 times the total number of deaths that can be attributed to al Qaeda in all the attacks before and after 9/11.

Bin Laden’s actions led to wars, a massive world-wide man hunt, draconian security procedures and a near-constant state of fear, here and around the world.

Yet hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. get behind the wheel every day without a moment’s thought. And almost nothing is done to ensure that they return home safely.

Based on the latest statistics, 96 people will die on American streets today. They could be your neighbors, your co-workers, your family, your friends. They could be total strangers.

It could be you.

Or me.

The attacks on 9/11 were devastating. I’m happy that bin Laden has finally been brought to justice. And I thank the men and women who sacrificed, and in some cases gave their lives, to make this possible.

But now maybe we can refocus on the carnage that takes place on our roads every day.

96 today.

672 this week.

2976 this month. Just one less than the number of victims killed on 9/11.

This month. And every month.

That’s the terror we need to fight now.

10 comments

  1. Digital Dame says:

    I don’t see OBL’s death so much as justice as simply putting an end to his reign, while fully realizing there are no doubt thousands of others eager to take up where he left off and carry on in his stead. But like you, I have no compunction about being glad he’s gone.

    That aside, those statistics are sobering.

  2. [...] In LA looks at the numbers. We have a 9/11 every single month in the United States from traffic [...]

  3. la rider says:

    Those stats don’t even include the lives ‘saved’ by modern medicine. There are many people that are ‘living’, but in pain throughout their lives.

  4. Chewie says:

    We definitely need a pro-life transportation system.

    I’m certainly not grieving the death of Bin Laden, but I’m kind of disturbed at how people can celebrate death, even the death of a mass murderer.

    I think it goes to show you how violence on all sides slowly tears away pieces of our humanity. Our wars will continue, and just like in acts of terrorism, it will be civilians who have no real connection to the fight that will pay the highest price.

  5. The Trickster says:

    It’d be interesting looking at the costs of those two things:

    Road Safety
    Terrorism

    Both as a pure $ figure, and as a ‘cost per death’ (I know its a little macabre). My bet is the ‘war on terrorism’ will have cost in the magnitude of hundreds if not thousands of times more money than sorting out something that kills far more people.

  6. erik Mar says:

    How is killing someone the same as “bringing him to justice”? What happened to due process and criminal trials? After all, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the crime of 9/11, in spite of his admission of guilt. Were the same standard of evidence used here applied to other criminal cases, our executioners would be working overtime.
    Or, to turn it around, let’s apply the same standard of evidence to the _other_ 9/11, namely the one from 1973, where there’s plenty of hard documentation that demonstrates collusion at the highest levels of the CIA and State Department in a coup that led directly to the torture and deaths of thousands more than in “our” 9/11. Shouldn’t we then see bloodlust celebrations in the streets and on the air from the multitudes once Kissinger et. al are “brought to justice”? if not, why not?

    • Opus the Poet says:

      You mean aside from the several videos of bin Laden claiming credit for the plans and financing of the operation, and praising the operatives that carried it out?

  7. Michael Cahn says:

    Thanks for putting this is perspective. Your own voice as part of our public opinion will help to highlight the neglected killing fields of our roads, and put the others in perspective.
    Indeed, this imbalance between numbers of victims and column inches written is a serious disease in our media landscape. I sometimes felt your own heightened and consistent interest in the Blood On The Bike Lane would be morbid or fatalistic or one-sided, but in the light of this bigger picture is now seems more defensible. Ride on, to a place where the street no longer resembles a battlefield, on which enemies are easily identified by their metallic uniform, to a street where there is a bit more encounter rather than conflict.

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