We hide many of the financial costs of our automobile culture, such as the exorbitant true price of parking, but just as much, we hide the cost in human lives. By far, the most common source of violent traumatic injury and death in the developed world is our beloved motor vehicle. In the US alone, every year 10 times as many people are killed by cars than were killed in the World Trade Center attacks, 10 times as many as have been killed in the Iraq war. Every two years we kill more Americans with vehicles than we did in all of the Vietnam war. Every three years, more than WWI, every ten, more than WWII.
Why do we deem these losses acceptable? They aren’t inevitable. The UK, Iceland, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland all have vehicular death rates less than half of our 12/100,000 people per year (which puts us on par with Bangladesh…). We can re-design and re-build our cities and our streets to avoid this carnage, for a fraction of the cost of our ill-fated War on Terror, and many other governmental actions supposedly undertaken in the name of keeping us safe. Safe from threats which do not really exist, in a statistical sense, but which loom large in our monkey minds.
Would it be different if we left the corpses out on the roads to rot? If we hung the out skeletal remains as a ghastly reminder? Some software developers in Moscow are trying to do just that, with a mobile augmented reality app called the Death Revealer: