I’ve been a “fan” of carnage culture news and discussion for several years, mainly since I started reading Streetsblog (probably in 2007) and their Weekly Carnage series. I write about “carnage culture” here and a little bit on Grid Chicago. But on Grid Chicago I tend to keep the coverage about crash data plus more “reasonable” (a euphemism for less angry, maybe) and objective.

Carnage culture to me is a description of the level of life and property damage Americans are willing to accept as a cost of doing business, and a cost of living. And I think that level of acceptability is much too high. Is the person responsible for these crashes paying for the damage they caused? Did the City bill the driver for the trees, curbs, landscaping, and guardrail he ran into?

I present here the first Chicago Crash Diary. From the photos and background information I received from a reader, combined with the Illinois Department of Transportation crash data, I was able to “reconstruct” a particular damaging crash in 2010. I made a color flyer from this information to quickly distill the details.

It seems continuing our system of having extremely high health care costs (without an equivalent return in quality or faster care when compared to countries with lower health care costs) is an acceptable cost of perpetuating backward ideas about society’s responsibility to take care of its members and refusing to allow a system that shares health care costs for those not already covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or child health insurance programs.

This is like carnage culture: we accept the damage to property, to human lives, and to society, to continue a culture (including our built environment) that depends on and glorifies automobile ownership and driving to places where other modes suffice. Our culture that allows unlicensed drivers, uninsured drivers, drivers with limited education (driver’s education is not needed for those 18 and older), being distracted by cellphones, and lax enforcement,* is the same one that allows $300 billion to be spent on “picking up the pieces” after crashes (study from AAA by Cambridge Systematics). But ours is the same culture that builds its cities and neighborhoods and places of employment to only be accessible by those who can drive.

The cost of crashes are based on the Federal Highway Administration’s comprehensive costs for traffic fatalities and injuries that assign a dollar value to a variety of components, including medical and emergency services, lost earnings and household production, property damage, and lost quality of life, among other things. [This story is interesting because the press release’s angle was that crash costs are three times higher than congestion costs, which is constantly in the news; congestion is apparently something we care more about.]

I don’t think $35 per month liability insurance, or the police, district attorneys, and courts, are protecting us from this damage.

*I could go on. Just search for “top causes of car crashes”.