The map showing the increase in diabetes is not good new news. Neither is the statistic that for ages 3 to 34 the leading cause of death is vehicle crashes. If a disease was responsible for a similar number of deaths annually it would be considered as epidemic but for some reason we tolerate car crashes as if they are a necessary evil.
So how many deaths are we talking about? According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2011 there were 32,367 traffic fatalities (excluding any occurring on private property - parking lots, driveways etc.). Of these 4,432 were pedestrians. The good news (if anything around this statistic can be called good) is that the total number of traffic fatalities has decreased from 43,005 in 2002. The bad news is that while pedestrian deaths have also declined over the same time period from 4851 in 2002, the percentage of pedestrian deaths has risen from 11 to 14. Does this mean more miles are being covered on foot thus creating more opportunities for getting run over? Or is it getting more dangerous to be a pedestrian?
Whatever the case, we are killing over 32,000 people in this country per year on our roads. That's a LOT of avoidable deaths and I fully support the switch in terminology from 'accidents' to 'crashes'. While very few people deliberately use their vehicle as a weapon these crashes happen because of driver error or vehicle failure. Most are driver error so keep that in mind next time you reach for your phone while driving.