Saturday, July 22, 2006

fear in phoenix somewhat misplaced

Residents of Phoenix are afraid because two separate serial killers have killed at least eleven residents of that city over the past year or so. Phoenix's police department has organized a task force of 120 detectives (with assistance from the feds and neighboring police departments), has offered big rewards for information leading to arrests, and residents are taking self-defense classes and locking their doors.

Meanwhile, a much more devastating killer is getting less attention. In 2005 through July 31, 98 people were killed in Phoenix by this public safety menace, and for the whole year of 2004, 170 died. (Can't quickly find 2006 stats but indications are the numbers are on the rise.)

The killer? Traffic accidents.

I don't want to belittle people for being afraid of criminals and killers, it's natural. But it's exacerbated by the way our media and our public officials sensationalize these issues, and by our poor understanding in many instances of the relative risks of different activities.

The risk to the good people of Phoenix from driving around that fair burg is far higher than the risk of being targeted by the Baseline Killer or Serial Shooter.