Dr. David Levinson on his Transportationist blog has what I feel is a rather atypical discussion, in that he compared premature mortality from motor vehicle-sourced air pollution to early death by motor vehicle crash. Unusual though it may be, subject content, I feel, is important.
The title Levinson gave his post is: “DEATH BY CAR: ARE YOU MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM A CRASH OR BREATHING ITS TOXIC EMISSIONS?”
“Air pollution deaths (premature strokes, heart attacks, lung problems, and so on) on average shortens life by 10 years per person who dies from air pollution. Car crashes are more likely to shorten life of younger persons, hence the greater years of life lost per death,” Levinson astutely observed.
Meanwhile, in the same post Levinson’s colleague Dr. Julian Marshall (an environmental engineer) as cited by Levinson said: “The most useful number to look to, from an overall health standpoint, probably is the DALYs [Disability Adjusted Life Year], since that number includes both mortality and morbidity (death and disease).”
In summing, Levinson wrote: “I would conclude we should fear crashes more than air pollution from traffic, but we should not be sanguine about emissions either.”
While on the subject, let’s not forget also that: “There is a moral imperative to reduce the number of transportation-related fatalities and injuries caused from crashes; okay, I get that. But, the moral imperative to cut, if not eliminate outright, pollution-caused death and sickness, should be just as, if not more, pronounced.” This citation from: “Greater urgency, resolve, cooperation needed to curb pollution.”
Here is my concluding thought: This “moral imperative” idea that I’m talking about, well, to put it bluntly, it isn’t being emphasized nearly enough. Need I say more?
– Alan Kandel