Home > Complete Streets, Cultural Movement, dangerous by design, Visual Stimulus > Motordom has wrought carnage since the inception–we continue to watch

Motordom has wrought carnage since the inception–we continue to watch

…it is greatly appreciated.

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I’m captivated by Boston Public Library’s collection of automotive crash photography from the 1920’s (Flickr). They are a graphic reminder that we humans have crashed cars into trees, buildings, off bridges and into people since automobiles were put on the road and we’ve gawked at the aftermath for just as long.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

In 2010, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were nearly 33,000 deaths on U.S. roads; the lowest since 1949, but still 90 deaths per day in the name of speed, comfort, and convenience.

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for young people (NHTSA-PDF). In 2009, car crashes were the leading killer for every age group from 11 to 27 (in 2008, the same was true for ages 13-30).

Globally, 1.3 million die every year on public roads and streets. That’s 3,500 people every single day and the pattern of crashes impacting the young holds, as annually 260,000 people age 10-24  die prematurely because of automobile crashes (Make Roads Safe).

Anyway, apart from the trip into the carnage data (which wasn’t my intention when I started this post–really), what is extremely captivating by many of these images is the awareness the gawkers have of the photographer. There are several, like these below, where onlookers seem eager to be photographed with the wreckage. I can only guess what they are thinking, but I suspect it started with something like, “oh, the tragedy.”

Or, as they likely were passing by these crashes on foot, they are expressing early equivalents of, “What idiots! Do you see this?” What do you see in the crashes and the eyes of the onlookers?

View the collection of 281 images at Boston Public Library’s Flickr site.

 Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

HT @Brainpicker (always intriguing finds)

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