Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, Feb 13 2013 11:00 PM

Traffic analogy backward: Laws can make difference

By The Bakersfield Californian

After reading Inga Barks' Feb. 9 column ("Gun-control advocates know laws won't work"), I read the December 2012 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Barks claimed that the report says the U.S. suffers 43,000 highway deaths each year.

On the contrary, the summary accompanying the Traffic Safety Facts Research Notes shows that 32,367 people died in traffic accidents in 2011. This number was "the lowest number of fatalities since 1949." The lead-off line graph in the article shows a convincing, if gradual, 60-year downward trend in both the fatality rate and in actual traffic deaths (see www.nhtsa.gov). Over the last few decades, even with many more cars and drivers, the highways have become safer. It does not support her claim that government has no role to play.

The data supports the opposite conclusion from the analogy she invokes. Death rates have moved down, even with something as deep in American culture as car ownership. The highways are safer today. No one tried to take away Americans' cars. A national commitment and legislative action make a difference. Passing more laws did have a positive effect.

It should be possible to reduce the number of gun deaths. That's what the analogy with highway deaths really shows. The auto death figures do not prove that gun deaths will be reduced, but they do show that they could be.

David Campbell

Bakersfield

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