FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Still Unsafe at Any Speed

I certainly admire the life and work of Ralph Nader, for whom I’ve proudly voted several times.  Despite his failure to chain himself to the Supreme Court’s front door in November of 2000, I remain a fan.

Nonetheless, I have to question why Mr. Nader now seems to be resting content with his partial (and half-century-old) victories over the forces promoting the ongoing reign of the private automobile.  As Nader’s magnum opus, Unsafe at Any Speed, intimated, this machine, if relied upon for everyday transportation in sufficient numbers, is simply unsafe and unsustainable at any and every speed.

Reading Nader these days, you wouldn’t know this.  Seizing upon the auto-industrial complex’s own favored measure of so-called “automotive safety” — deaths from crashes per mile driven, a measure that disguises the crucial fact that, in recent decades, people have been driving a lot more miles — Nader seems to think that this topic was all but put to bed by his lobbying for creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  While failing to mention that Mothers (and Others) Against Drunk Driving certainly deserves its own major, independent share of the progress that’s been made against the unfettered reign of profit (i.e, cars) in the area of personal mobility, Nader lets the impressive scale of that progress paper over the equally impressive costs and dangers that still, and always will, inhere in cars-first transportation.

For example, you know those 1.07 deaths per per 100 million miles driven, that rate of which Nader is apparently so proud?  That rate transported 32,675 residents of the United States to their early graves last year.  (By my math, that’s almost a 9/11’s worth of violent deaths happening every month.  And, as Nader might add, many more maimings and injuries than that.)

But, of course, there is a lot more stupidity that attends the practice of trying to rely on hundreds of millions of 95 percent unused, 3,500-pound heaps of complex materials to facilitate everyday locomotion.  Not least of the built-in dangers is the strong likelihood that, loss leaders like “Electric Vehicles” and hybrid cars notwithstanding, fueling such fleets in any conceivable manner is a planetary impossibility.  Will we manage to avoid over-heating our climate, exhausting our most precious fuel supplies, and letting the attending tensions launch World War Three?

The answers there seem far from clear and comfortable to me.  I know why corporate capitalists don’t want us talking about them.  They can’t live without cars-first transportation.  But, with all due respect, what’s up with Ralph Nader here?

More articles by:

Michael Dawson is the Portland, Oregon-based editor of deathbycar.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail