The Problem With High-Speed Chases

Watching a high speed chase can, objectively, be fun. There’s drama. Speed. Excitement. Sometimes, even humor. But they’ve killed more than 13,000 people since 1979, according to The New Yorker. Is that something we can change? Is it even possible to change it?

This video from The New Yorker tries to look at it from a bunch of different angles. Are we, as a society, encouraging this sort of thing? Do we all have blood on our hands? Is it more complicated than that? Is high-speed chase coverage a detriment or benefit?

Do we blame the monolithic “The Media,” for continuously broadcasting them? Or is the media broadcasting them because it’s what we, the public, crave? Wouldn’t television stations stop showing it if we didn’t want to watch them anymore? And isn’t there an argument to be made that by showing live high speed chases, the news media are providing us with a means to avoid areas where a high speed chase is going on, and it’s our responsibility to do with that information what we will and not, you know, run out into the street for a better view?


For context on that 13,000 deaths figure, The Washington Post notes that “police chases kill more people each year than floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning – combined.” And the Post noted that innocent bystanders accounted for 27 percent of chase deaths.

Maybe we should stop chasing cars all together, especially as technology creates better, smarter ways to catch suspects.

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About the author

Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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