Sure, some hyperbole may lead to more funding for those engineers who have kept at it the last fifty years, making driving considerably more safe than in my youth. As we shop for a car for our youngest daughter, we are thankful for the improved rates – ones that still have a size that scares us. We all wish for better odds, better engineering. The toll remains high enough that most of us have sat at sad funerals for youngsters dead too early & families shattered; all of us have encountered scarred survivors.
And because of that sadness, we may be willing to cut the doomsayers some slack; nonetheless, we need to be honest about speed and understand the usefulness of all those divided 4 lanes. We need some perspective and in that perspective we note how unhelpful the shrillness of a few years ago was:
This may seem non-controversial now, but at the time the debate was shrill and filled with predictions of doom. Ralph Nader claimed that “history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life.” Judith Stone, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, predicted to Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today Show” that there would be “6,400 added highway fatalities a year and millions of more injuries.” Federico Pena, the Clinton Administration’s Secretary of Transportation, declared: “Allowing speed limits to rise above 55 simply means that more Americans will die and be injured on our highways.” WSJ
A similar post on Instapundit that reminds us that generalizations are often made without much regard for facts. I’ve come from yet another academic party where the evils of Bush’s tax policies were bewailed. But Kudlow notes:
These data points hardly suggest a slumping economy. Instead they reveal a low-tax, durable, resilient, and flexible American market system that easily shifts from one sector (housing) to another (business investment). It is this American economic dynamism that separates our ongoing prosperity from the overtaxed and overregulated stutter-start stagnation of industrial economies in Western Europe and Japan.
(Some debate about this on Instapundit readers.
So, the glass in both cases may not be as full as we would like – or Kudlow might imply. But if we ignore how full it really is, we may discount what got us to the much more pleasant levels of each than predicted.