America's roads now more dangerous than Russia's

U.S. roads are the most lethal in the developed world, and have been for twenty years—it would be closer to thirty were it not for Portugal . But the death rate per million people has shot up in the last few years, and they're now more dangerous than Russia's too.

For all the grim tales of guns and opioids, the thing that really hits you as a visitor to the US these days is the cars. Literally, for too many people. In 2021, road fatalities were the second leading cause of death among Americans aged under 45, ahead of Covid-19, suicides and gun violence. On a visit to the US last month, three things made a strong impression: the sheer size of the cars; the relative lack of electric models with their characteristic hum; and speed limits that seem entirely optional. All, I think, stem from the same underlying tendency: to see driving as an expression of personal freedom.

Whenever I go back to England (safer than anywhere in the list except Japan) I'm struck by all the adorable little cars. It's like being in toytown. You feel you could reach out into the road and roll them over as they whir by. America's looming toddler-squashers are just not there in any numbers.

The Financial Times points out that the massive looming trucks and the credit-wrecking $75k loans that come with them are a distinctly political phenomenon.

The pattern of car purchasing maps on to the US political divide. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to buy a new vehicle of any kind, and vastly more likely to buy a big one. About 65 per cent of buyers of the largest pickup trucks, utility vehicles and SUVs last year were Republican, compared with just 15 per cent bought by Democrats, according to a survey by the research company Strategic Vision.

Death on wheels.

Previously: Cars may be more dangerous than the sun on April 8th