The headline of a February 1 article in the Kansas City Star not so subtly insults the character of the people who live in red state America and morbidly politicizes the heretofore apolitical.
“November’s presidential contest was bizarre in many ways,” writes Stuart Silverstein, “but there is one peculiarity that pundits haven’t pounced on: The states with the worst rates of traffic deaths in the country went solidly for Donald Trump while Hillary Clinton swept states with the lowest fatality rates.” Lest the traffic death peculiarity go un-pundited, the Star and Silverstein fill the void. Silverstein is assistant editor at Fair Warning, a news services that purports to cover “safety, health and corporate conduct.”
As Silverstein points out, the 14 states with the highest fatality rates backed Trump. The 12 states with the lowest fatality rates backed Clinton. This calculation, however, was based on fatalities per capita not on fatalities per miles driven, which would make more sense.
“At first blush,” writes Silverstein, “experts struggle to come up with convincing explanations for the phenomenon.” In fact, however, anyone with common sense could answer that question.
Clinton carried those states with high density, relatively low car ownership, fewer miles driven, and lower speed limits. The “safest” states were New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Rhode Island. Not surprisingly, the District of Columbia was safer than all of them. In every case, the lower speeds are less a result of prudence than traffic.
Trump carried the states with few major cities, little cold weather, and lots of wide-open spaces, with Wyoming topping the list.
Exceptions to the FairWarning rule abound. For instance, New Mexico, which backed Clinton, had a higher fatality than Kansas and tied Missouri, both of which backed Trump by substantial margins.
A more useful correlation to explore would be population density: why is it that people who live in tightly clustered urban areas are more likely to vote Democrat?