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posted: 2/10/2010 12:01 AM

Why no furor over real car problem?

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I was just reading a bit about the Toyota accelerator pedal recall and noted the following from a Reuters article on, "Up to 19 U.S. crash deaths over the past decade may be linked to accelerator-related problems at Toyota, congressional officials have said."

Not to excuse or diminish this issue for what it is, but I had to marvel a bit over the level of attention given (by the U.S. Congress and national media, for instance) to this potential cause of as many as 1.9 crash deaths per year for the last 10 years, while wide and hearty acceptance is given to a long-time, known contributor of about 20,000 crash deaths per year (on average over the past 20 years - and which used to average even higher): alcohol consumption.

Of course, the accelerator pedals (if culpable) can only cause vehicle crash-related deaths (excepting some bizarre circumstances), while alcohol is a virtually undisputed key factor in several other kinds of deaths - up to 75,000 total deaths a year, when adding in data from the National Center for Health Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And that's only for deaths: I can only guess at the additional dollar and human costs every year stemming from property losses, job losses, lost productivity, family problems, abusive behaviors, etc. But I guess since a pedal is just a tiny component piece of hardware, while alcohol is viewed as being necessary for adults to have fun anymore, and drives huge cash flows from sales, advertising and taxes, no one in the media, the government, nor the majority of the populace is willing for the spigot to be shut off. It seems we are "strain(ing) at a gnat, and swallow(ing) a camel."

Vince Buss