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Scientific illiteracy

A good case of illiteracy over at CNN Money: Why more people are suddenly dying on U.S. roads by Matt McFarland.

But traffic safety experts said there was no single culprit for the surge in motor vehicle deaths. Smartphone use, cheaper gas prices, climate change and a strong economy all play a role.

“It’s a very complex system,” said Ken Kolosh, the director of statistical reporting at the National Safety Council. “You can never say emphatically it’s these two or three things.”

Climate change? That’s pulling up the modern era bogey man. Another doozy is the graph showing “fatalities caused by human error crashes.” This one classes speeding and unrestrained in the same class as impaired and distracted. Going fast is not necessarily speeding but it and failure to use seat belts can indeed increase injury risk in a crash but they don’t cause crashes. Drunk driving and not paying attention to driving do increase the risk of a crash but they don’t influence the risk of injury in a crash. Drunk driving may actually decrease the risk of severe injury but that is for another examination.

For example, the NSC found a 34% increase in deaths in Georgia. The state is seeing more single vehicle crashes, lane departures, over-corrections and striking of fixed objects.

“These are characteristics of distraction, and we believe texting to be the primary [cause],” said Harris Blackwood, the director of Georgia’s highway safety office.

The U.S. experienced its warmest winter ever in 2015 – 2016. With better weather, people are more likely to spend time outside on motorcycles and bicycles. Pedestrians are also more inclined to be outside during nice weather, creating more chances to be injured.

What is the connection between the 34% increase in deaths and the ‘more single vehicle crashes’? The two measures are placed together as if there is some connection but that connection is not described or shown, just assumed.

Then there’s climate change. It looks like the problem is that people like to get out in good weather and we just can’t have that, can we?

Yes it is a “very complex system” so why such simplistic and nonsensical assumptions and assertions? Is there an agenda or two in here providing bias not visible to the illiterate and ignorant?