Phoenix LightrailA few days ago, voters in Phoenix Arizona approved a sales tax increase to help fund public transportation development in Phoenix.

There have been many studies on the environmental, social, and economic impact of public transportation, both pro and con. As a personal injury attorney, I was interested in the public safety benefit of public transportation, which I had seen in studies, but was not often mentioned in the media coverage.

To summarize the research (see, for example, ,http://www.vtpi.org/safer.pdf), it seems that a person is about 66 times less likely to be injured or killed in a collision while using a public bus or train than driving a car. Admittedly, while I was looking at various studies on this subject, I was reminded of the quote attributed to Mark Twain (but Twain himself said he was quoting British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who also probably didn’t say it), “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But, these studies reflect the findings per mile traveled, so it should be a meaningful comparison.

When a person is seriously injured in a collision, they are transported by ambulance or helicopter to an emergency room, where they undergo expensive diagnostic tests, followed by life-saving and injury stabilizing surgeries and procedures. If the injured person has no healthcare plan, or a healthcare plan that is government funded, then tax money (euphemism for “you and me”) pay for that care. And the emergency room care is usually just the beginning of a long and expensive healing process.

Putting aside the savings in human suffering for a moment, what if we could decrease that toll in medical expenses by 66 times? That has to translate into billions of dollars of savings, which either doesn’t have to be collected from us, or could be put to other uses–including better public transportation.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Attorney Kevin Fine with Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at (480) 733-6800 or via email kfine@davismiles.com.