The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Friday, July 22, 2005

Illusion of Safety Overtakes Motorists


Ok, so the NYPD are starting to search bags in the subway system, thus providing the temporary illusion of increased security on mass transit. In general I don't have a real objection to this as a temporary measure to help people feel more secure. But the fact is that this is more psychological than a true security screening like we have in airports. Two paragraphs in the NYTimes piece linked to above that resonated with me were:

William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, an industry group, said comprehensive coverage of any major urban transit system would be next to impossible. "If you were going to try to check a very high percentage at every station or on every train, it would be incredibly labor-intensive," he said.

Still, he said, the searches could deter would-be attackers and improve the public's confidence. "The public wants to feel safe, as well as be safe," he said. "So this has a benefit of perception."

Meanwhile motorists everywhere must be feeling pretty secure that they aren't a terrorist target, or at least if they are it is merely the work of local, homegrown road rage instead of some ideologically driven suicide bomber.

Here in NY, the everyday auto-terror continues in the nation's only city where drivers are a minority -- an average of 684 car crashes are recorded every day of every week of every year. Over 17,000 pedestrians or cyclists are struck and injured by automobiles every year in NYC, and cars killed 1,190 pedestrians and 121 bicyclists between 1995 and 2001.

And for those keeping score at home, last year in the US it was terrorists: 0, fatal car crashes 42,800.

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