Traffic fatalities down, but not far enough [Editorial]

Traffic fatalities may have been down in 2013, but we'd be better off with none.

In 2013, 21 people were killed on roadways in Harford County, down substantially from the 31 killed in 2012.

Over the past eight years ending with 2013, the number of people killed on roadways in Harford County has been in the 20s, which from a certain perspective could be viewed as a relatively low number.

It's worth pointing out, however, if 20 to 30 people were being killed in the county in lawn mower accidents, gun incidents or as a result of eating tainted food, it would be a big deal. Traffic fatalities, somehow, don't necessarily illicit the same kinds of responses as other ways of death.

Way back during the Vietnam War, it was something of a talking point to note that more people were killed in traffic accidents in this country in any given year than were killed in combat. The grisly comparison is one that reflects poorly on the attitude some people have about both war and traffic deaths.

Like it or not, the unfortunate reality, at least based on the bad driving habits we tolerate as a society, our cavalier attitude toward highway fatalities hasn't changed much.

Realistically speaking, 20 highway deaths in a county of about 250,000 people is too many. Actually, one traffic death is too many for the affected family and extended social circles.

So long as we think nothing of speeding, changing lanes erratically and engaging in any one of a dozen other unsafe driving practices, we can continue to count on a level of carnage we don't even tolerate for our armed forces.

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