Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Forward Gear

I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact how much safer our living evironment is today than it was in the past.  A good example is in a story I read today in USA Today about traffic fatalities.

Traffic fatalities in the U.S. dropped in 2010 for the fifth straight year.  A big factor in the decline is the fatality rate in big states-particulary California.  For example, California traffic fatalities dropped 12% from 2009 to 2010 but that accounted for 37% of the national decrease in deaths.  This is also a good example of just how big California is in relationship to the U.S as a whole.

2,715 people died on California's highways in 2010.  That is a horrible fact.  However, this is the lowest number of deaths on California roads since 1944.  To put that in perspective, there were 1/10 the number of vehicles on the road and vehicles traveled 1/16 the number of miles per year in 1944 compared to 2010.  In other words, you are over 10 times safer on the highway today than you were then.

How has that been accomplished?  Safer cars, seat belts, child car seats, padded dashboards, air bags, better road designs, faster emergency services, advanced medical care and on and on.  Innovations, inventions and improvements made our lives safer and better.

You see the same progress in workplace safety.   98 people died building the Hoover Dam. 11 died in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. 5 people died building the Empire State Building.  In the 1930's it was almost an accepted rule that in large construction projects there would be one death for every $1 million of construction cost.  Today it is rare to have a death on a large construction project.  For example, I could not find any reports of fatalities in the construction of the One World Trade Center building (Freedom Tower)  where steel frame construction has reached over 92 of the planned 105 floors.

There always seems to be no end to complaints of how bad it is today compared to how it used to be.   We hear about evil corporations and heartless capitalists that just don't care.  There is talk of how this or that policy is killing people.  Drug companies. Car companies. Energy companies.Health insurance compnanie. Guess what?  It can be a lot worse and it has been vastly worse for almost all of human history.  A human life (beyond the womb)-this is not a political statement but a historical statement) carries a much higher value today in this country than ever before .  Be thankful you are blessed to be living today.  Make it your goal to do your part to make sure it is also better tomorrow for those that follow you.  The life you have today was given to you by the hard work and sacrifices of many others.  Pay it forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment