Blame Michelle Obama

While overall traffic fatalities fell last year by a “record” amount, pedestrian fatalities have shown little improvement. And what is the explanation for this? According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Assoc., it is all Michelle Obama’s fault:

First lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to get people to exercise outdoors might be a factor in an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths during the first half of last year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha said her organization doesn’t know why there were more deaths in the first six months of 2010 than in 2009, but the increase is notable because overall traffic fatalities went down 8 percent during this period, and the increase ends four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian deaths. But the “get moving” movement, led by Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, could be to blame, Harsha told The Washington Examiner.

The GHSA report is depressing reading. We all know why streets have become more dangerous for pedestrians, but the engineering profession refuses to own up to its responsibility. Instead, the GHSA report professes ignorance as to the causes, and the organization’s spokeswoman blames the First Lady instead.

This recalls Upton Sinclair’s famous principle: “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” As long as the traffic engineering profession gets paid to build bigger and faster highways, the non-motorized users will suffer the consequences.