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Playing Backup

I was just about to post on how poorly this story on highway safety was written. But then I noticed James beat me to it. So I'll play backup.

He asks about blaming the SUVs: "How many miles are driven in SUVs (of whatever type) in the years compared? "

I don't have the number of miles, but I'll highlight the part my eyes noticed:

It was the fifth straight year road deaths rose, although passenger car fatalities decreased. Sport utility vehicle deaths went up roughly 10 percent over 2002, with more than half of the victims in those crashes killed in rollovers. Motorcycle deaths also jumped.

That is hardly surprising as SUV sales and motorcycle sales are booming. In fact....

Cars have a slight edge in sales over light trucks, which include SUVs, pickups and minivans. But SUV sales rose more than 10 percent last year.

Me thinks me found a connection.


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Comments (2)

Me thinks you're right.... (Below threshold)

Me thinks you're right.

Of course, you realize that... (Below threshold)

Of course, you realize that how these stories are written is often shaped by press releases.

I have worked in corporate communications long enough to know that reporters more often than not just regurgitate what is pitched to them by the PR department of an organization or agency.

If you go to the NHTSA Web site, you'll see their press release, DOT Releases Preliminary Estimates Of 2003 Highway Fatalities.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"Injuries from motor vehicle crashes declined slightly in 2003, to the lowest levels since such data have been kept, according to preliminary estimates from the U. S. Department of Transportationís National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report on fatalities is mixed, however, with 43,220 deaths overall on the nationís highways in 2003, up slightly from 42,815 in 2002."

That's quite a different focus in the press release from, Public Citizen the group mentioned in the last paragraph:

Increase in Traffic Deaths Is Predictable Yet Preventable; Congress Must Require Life-Saving Vehicle Safety Improvements

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook*

"The bad news from the government today Ė that traffic deaths on U.S. highways are up for the second year in a row Ė is tragically predictable. Automakers have the technology to make vehicles safer, particularly in rollover crashes, which dominate this increase. Yet the government has not required automakers to act, and people continue to die needlessly..."

Obviously, the reporter based the news story on the Public Citizen press release.

According to the NHTSA injuries are at an all time low, and deaths are up only slightly.

But, Public Citizen is using this data to promote their anti-SUV agenda.

If you're ever wondering about a story like this, go to the Web sites of the organizations mentioned and read their PR for yourself. You'll be a much better informed reader!






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