• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Michelle Obama “Linked” to Pedestrian Deaths

From DC’s AM630 WMAL commits blood libel:

The Governors Highway Safety Association says pedestrian deaths increased in the first half of 2010 and the First Lady’s program to get Americans to be more active could be partly responsible.

Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is “trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more. While that’s good, it also increases our exposure to risk.”

After four straight years of steady declines, pedestrian deaths were up during the first six months of 2010, the latest figures available to be studied.

Other factors include distracted drivers, distracted pedestrians and what Adkins calls “aggressive pedestrians.”

“People who are not crossing where they are supposed to. They’re running in front of cars. We’ve even had examples of pedestrians getting out on the interstate,” said Adkins.

Alcohol is also factor in increased pedestrian deaths.   ”We’ve done a good job of getting people, after a night out of partying, to leave their keys behind. But just because you are walking does not mean you are not at risk,” said Adkins.

Pedestrians are also increasingly distracted by iPods and smart phones. It is not uncommon to see people crossing streets while fiddling with an electronic device and not watching where they are walking. Hospital emergency rooms have reported an upsurge of people injured in a fall because they were distracted by electronics.

Where to start?

Well, first off, there are no figures provided.  Via Dr. Google, I see “The Governors Highway Safety Association says in the report that 1,891 pedestrians were killed in the first six months of 2010, up from 1,884 in the same period in 2009 — a 0.4 percent increase. ”  Now, I don’t know the historical variation in these things, but I’d say offhand that this is a statistically insignificant swing.   Regardless, a variety of factors — alcohol, technology, and road design among them  – seem to be considered possible explanations for the slight reversal in trend.

Second, while I don’t pay much attention to the social campaigns of First Ladies, I don’t recall Mrs. Obama telling people that they should get drunk, strap on an iPod, and go wandering around the streets reading their BlackBerries.  She’s advising people to get some exercise, not to go wander around in traffic.  Yes, that’s technically a form of exercise.  There are others.

Third, anecdotally at least, I have indeed seen an increase in pedestrians distracted by electronic devices, whether it be texting while walking or grooving to whatever’s piping through their little white earbuds.  Then again, I’ve seen the same thing among people operating automobiles — and traffic deaths are down 8 percent during the same period.

Update (Doug Mataconis): It turns out that the Governors Highway Safety Association never said there was any link between the pedestrian deaths and the First Lady’s campaign. That appears to be a conclusion that WMAL and The Daily Caller came to all on their own.

Hat tip:  Teresa Kopec. Photo:  AP/Cleveland.com

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I don’t recall Mrs. Obama telling people that they should get drunk, strap on an iPod, and go wandering around the streets reading their BlackBerries.

    I know she did because Glenn Beck told me so.

    It’s all part of George Soros’s plan to reduce the American population

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. James, really? Are you so hard up for traffic that you post crap like this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Franklin says:

    James didn’t bring it up. Jonathan Adkins did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    One wonders if one can last as Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman while being such a buffoon. If they fire him, will Fox come through with a million dollar contract? lolz

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. john personna says:

    BTW, related:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWtDpGM36J8

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    James

    Second, while I don’t pay much attention to the social campaigns of First Ladies, I don’t recall Mrs. Obama telling people that they should get drunk, strap on an iPod, and go wandering around the streets reading their BlackBerries.

    Obviously you haven’t been listening correctly. Its a little oratorical trick called a dog whistle. Educate yourself, fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Dan Z says:

    Well, no surprise that the usual suspects – Rush, Hannity, etc – are up to their usual breed of moronity.

    However, I find the original report that they cite extremely myopic and irresponsible to view the increase in pedestrian deaths, however small, as a failure of Michelle’s program while at the same time considering an 8% decline in overall traffic fatalities as an independent success.

    HELLO! If we have fewer drivers on the road due to alternate modes of transportation being utilized then the driving experience becomes less dangerous. Conversely, if there was a significant increase in pedestrian traffic, particularly new, uneducated pedestrians, then we would expect that more pedestrian fatalities would be the result. In fact, the fact that there are not significantly MORE fatalities with an increased sample size could be the bigger takeaway from these stats. That overall, risk of dying from transportation related problems has decreased.

    Education of a new generation of pedestrians and increased access for safety would, of course, be another takeaway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. [...] deaths must have really surged after Mrs. Obama told us to start walking to work, right?  As James Joyner discovered when researching the topic, the increase was … seven: Via Dr. Google, I see [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Christian says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Tano says:

    “..a 0.4 percent increase. ” Now, I don’t know the historical variation in these things, but I’d say offhand that this is a statistically insignificant swing.”

    Not having the energy to actually look it up, I am going to guess that the rate of population growth is larger than 0.4%, which means the per capita accident rate is actually going down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Elvis Elvisberg says:

    She’s advising people to get some exercise, not to go wander around in traffic. Yes, that’s technically a form of exercise. There are others.

    Don’t be so coy! America needs this knowledge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. sam says:

    @JP

    BTW, related:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWtDpGM36J8

    She’s suing mall security for laughing at her: http://gone-hollywood.com/2011/01/woman-falls-in-fountain-sues-mall-security-for-laughing/

    Of course, as the linked story says, nobody knew it was her until she self-identified. (Kinda reminds of the scene in Woodstock of the two folks gettin’ it on in the field. The shot was taken from waaaaaaay away. Nevertheless, some goof tried to sue the producers for alleging some bogus privacy violation. As I recall, the case was thrown out because the people couldn’t really be identified, and the judge, if I recall, made some remark to the effect that folks ought really to look for a field with taller grass next time they’re so inclined.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Bog & Bam says:

    The right will take this seriously. There is no danger of getting hurt going from chair in front of your computer in your mom’s basement to the refrigerator in the kitchen, if you can see your feet, you’ll be okay on the stairs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. While I am quite certain that there are some really, really dumb things coming out of the Office of the First Lady (every administration has to have one? isn’t it time to elect a POTUS that doesn’t come with a FLOTUS? I’m single, and I could be President), this is NOT one of them.

    America, you need to get your happy ass walking. Here in Germany, it’s a daily and weekly ritual to walk several kilometers or more, every day of the week, rain or shine. Here in the Schwarzwald, there are abundant hiking trails.

    I would say that a lack of these clearly-identified walking paths and trails is a contributing factor to pedestrian deaths in the United States. When we lived in Central Maryland, there were plenty of places to walk, and plenty of criminals who would ambush and rob and kill people. Google up “Howard County Pedestrian Robbed” and you’ll see what I mean.

    America is Fatass Nation. Walk, walk, walk. That’s the only thing that will save you if you are too fat to see your own junk. Peace out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. [...] Michelle Obama “Linked” to Pedestrian Deaths (outsidethebeltway.com) Posted in: Features   Tags: governors highway safety association, michelle obama, obesity program, sarah palin, talking points memo, washington examiner « Repeal and Replace Obamacare (with, uh…. something) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. [...] Michelle Obama “Linked” to Pedestrian Deaths (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Nellcote says:

    0.4%=7 (that’s SEVEN) people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. john personna says:

    So this stupid thing is not tops at memeorandum

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Steve Plunk says:

    Pure crap. Lazy media.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Between this, and his inability to comprehend the complexity that is closed captioning, I’ve developed a sinking feeling that gateway pundit isn’t all that bright.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Zuzu says:

    Well, aside from the fact that the GHSA piece said that half of all pedestrian fatalities are alcohol-related, as Joyner points out …

    That .04% increase amounted to exactly seven fatalities.

    Michelle Obama did not even introduce her “Let’s Move” initiative until late June 2010…in other words, after the six month period in question.

    Now I want to know how many pedestrians have been killed or injured by silent hybrids?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Zuzu says: