Featured Article: “Beyond the Statistics in Pedestrian Deaths” by Simon Romero
The United States is enduring its most severe increase in traffic deaths since the 1940s. Beginning in the summer of 2020, during the pandemic, crashes and deaths began going up.
In this lesson, you will learn about how the roads of Albuquerque became more dangerous for pedestrians during the pandemic. Then, you will study a graph about pedestrian deaths and try to understand the causes behind the issue.
Reflect in Writing or Discussion
How often do you walk in your community? Daily? Weekly? Occasionally?
Do you walk to go to school, shop or socialize? How safe do you feel as a pedestrian — that is, someone traveling by foot — in your neighborhood? Why?
Look at the eight words below. Do you know what any of them mean? Are any new to you?
4. fender bender
To learn the meanings and quiz yourself, you can check out this Vocabulary.com list.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
1. What were some of the things that Simon Romero, the reporter, noticed drivers doing in his community?
2. What happened last December in Albuquerque that gave him additional concerns about drivers and pedestrian safety?
3. When did pedestrian deaths begin to go up? What factors might have caused this increase?
4. What does Aditya Bhattacharya, Pronoy’s father, think should be done?
5. How do you feel after reading the article? How important is this issue in your community?
Spend five minutes looking at the graph below. Then respond to the questions.
What do you notice about the graph?
What do you wonder about the graph?
What is your reaction? How does this graph connect to your own life and community?
What changes might have contributed to the rise in pedestrian deaths and to frustration and anger among drivers?
Extension: To learn what experts think is causing the increase in reckless driving, read this excerpt from the Morning newsletter, “Vehicle Crashes, Surging”:
“We’re seeing erratic behavior in the way people are acting and their patience levels,” Albuquerque’s police chief, Harold Medina, told Simon. “Everybody’s been pushed. This is one of the most stressful times in memory.”
Art Markman, a cognitive scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, said that the emotions partly reflected “two years of having to stop ourselves from doing things that we’d like to do.” He added: “When you get angry in the car, it generates energy — and how do you dissipate that energy? Well, one way is to put your foot down a little bit more on the accelerator.”
Rising drug abuse during the pandemic seems to play an important role, as well. The U.S. Department of Transportation has reported that “the proportion of drivers testing positive for opioids nearly doubled after mid-March 2020, compared to the previous 6 months, while marijuana prevalence increased by about 50 percent.” (Mid-March 2020 is when major Covid mitigations began.)
How accurate were your guesses? Are you surprised by this information? Why or why not?
Now think back to the questions in the warm-up. Do you feel any more or less concerned about the issue after reading the article and looking at the graph?
What do you think could be done to address this issue in your community?
Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.