America's War On Preventable Deaths

A Chicago Tribune editorial recently ran a headline that should have every Americans  attention. "CIGARETTES: DRUNK DRIVING: NEXT: GUNS. It pointed out that we Americans indeed resented the preventable deaths Cigarettes and Drunk Driving caused.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Cigarette smoking this year is at an all time low 14%. Without a doubt one of the great public health triumphs of the century, when you consider in 1997 the number of Americans who smoked was just under 25% and in 1965, that figure stood at a whooping 45% of Americans were smokers. The CDC estimates that 480,000 Americans die each year as  the result of smoking, and an additional 41,000 deaths from second hand smoke. On average a person who smokes will die ten years earlier than a non smoker. Sobering numbers to be sure.

I used the word sobering which brings me to the next feature of the Tribunes editorial, "The Drunk Driver",  who in today's world is a public menace to be jailed, not a mistake prone tippler to be tolerated. I was a police officer during those times when removing a driver from the public way suspected of DWI (driving while intoxicated as it was called then) was a very difficult endeavor both in terms of paper work and the way the courts and society's attitudes were as far as drunks behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Americans since those times have come to realize that something drastic needed to change and lawmakers and special interest groups such as "Mothers Against Drunk Drivers" stepped up and demanded change. What was once seemingly tolerated and scarcely enforced is now a criminal offense and rightfully so.  Americans were being killed and change was necessary.

The last part of the Tribunes editorial was, Next: Guns.  We are all hoping and the Tribune may be more optimistic than me but the gun issue in America in my opinion is not going to go away anytime soon. There is an estimated 400 million guns in America today and an estimated 200,000 rifles.  The anti gun and pro gun people are constantly yelling past each other. Also keep in mind that the Second Amendment is not going to go away anytime soon. The calls for more gun laws as we have seen in Chicago has failed to stem the slaughter on Chicago's streets. Chicago got its much heralded tougher gun laws which were supported by City and State leaders and in a brilliant investigative report by Frank Main of the Sun-Times,  revealed  the supposed get tough on gun offenders has not been used once against repeat offenders.A colossal boondoggle and a political stunt that made fools of all the chest thumpers and publicity seeking so called gun reformers

In 2015 over 13,000 people were killed by firearms according to the "Gun Violence Archive and 26,800 were injured.  Those figures exclude suicide.  Of course,  some cities and states all differ in the amount of gun deaths but as we can clearly see we need some sort of compromise to save lives. A figure that I mentioned before, and it still startles many Americans, gun deaths in America since 1968 have surpassed all the war deaths that America has endured since the birth of our nation. Winston Churchill once said "Only the Dead Have Seen The End Of War."   I for one hope someday America can prove old "Winnie"wrong.  Something's got to give.

After America's progress involving Cigarette Smoking and Drunk Driving I want to point out that we have another potential epidemic that is killing Americans that in my opinion needs the same kind of scrutiny that the war against Cigarette's, Drunk Driving, and Gun deaths is getting.

"The National Safety Council" reports that cell phone use leads to 1.6 million crashes yearly in the United States. An estimated 37,000 people die in road crashes each year and an additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled. Over 1,600 children under 15 die in crashes each year. Every year about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that involve a driver who was distracted in some way. Three hundred and ninety thousand accidents are caused by texting while driving.   That means that 78% of all distracted drivers have been texting while driving.  The words "DISTRACTED DRIVER" is taking it's place along with Cigarette Smoking, Drunk Driving, and Guns. The numbers are going up.  It's time to remove the Distracted Driver from our society. It's become a killer in disguise. The fines from $75.00 up to $200.00 are not working. America has to include this in their resentment of preventable deaths. One of every 4 accidents in the United States is caused by texting. What are we waiting for?

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