I used to think calling cars “death machines” was kind of extreme. Then my niece was hit by one.
She was only 9 years old, out with her family in Los Angeles and running toward an ice cream truck. She was hit with such force that most of her front teeth were knocked out. She is lucky to be alive.
Thinking about my niece made me recall all the other times members of my family had been injured by cars. My husband’s grandmother was killed. My aunt and uncle were seriously injured. I was even involved in a hit-and-run in a crosswalk in front of my school when I was a kid and broke my leg.
Most of us have stories like this — a car coming into our lives and unleashing horrendous damage on our loved ones, friends, family and even ourselves.
Cars are death machines. Pedestrian fatalities in the United States have increased 41 percent since 2008; more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2018 alone. More than 4,000 American kids are killed in car crashes every year – I am thankful every day my niece wasn’t one of them.
Here’s the thing: Statistics clearly don’t seem to persuade anyone of the magnitude of this problem. Not policy makers or automakers, technologists or drivers.
If numbers don’t change minds, can personal experiences?
I conducted an experiment on Twitter this summer, asking people to share my tweet if a car had hit them, or anyone they knew. It was shared thousands of times and more than 500 people shared stories of being hit, losing family and friends, and sustaining injuries that impact their daily lives.