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Michelle Obama To Blame For Pedestrian Deaths?


Of course not, but you see what I did there with the '?'.

This is something that made its rounds on the Twitters yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to post here. Apparently, there is a lot of associating the First Lady with an increase in pedestrian deaths, nationally. Exhibit A, The Daily Caller:
Highway safety spokesperson blames pedestrian deaths on Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign?

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In an interview with the Washington Examiner, [Governors Highway Safety Association Director Barbara] Harsha said that while there are not yet definitive answers as to why there were more pedestrian deaths in 2010 than 2009, Obama’s “get moving” movement could be at least partially to blame.

“There’s an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle],” Harsha told the Examiner. “Obviously, further study is needed.”

Harsha also said electronic devices such as cell phones and iPods could have contributed to the higher death rate.
Exhibit B, 630 AM, WMAL radio:
Michelle Obama's 'Get Moving' Program Linked to Pedestrian Deaths

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Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is "trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more. While that's good, it also increases our exposure to risk."

After four straight years of steady declines, pedestrian deaths were up during the first six months of 2010, the latest figures available to be studied.

Other factors include distracted drivers, distracted pedestrians and what Adkins calls "aggressive pedestrians."

"People who are not crossing where they are supposed to. They're running in front of cars. We've even had examples of pedestrians getting out on the interstate," said Adkins.

Alcohol is also factor in increased pedestrian deaths.

"We've done a good job of getting people, after a night out of partying, to leave their keys behind. But just because you are walking does not mean you are not at risk," said Adkins.

Pedestrians are also increasingly distracted by iPods and smart phones. It is not uncommon to see people crossing streets while fiddling with an electronic device and not watching where they are walking. Hospital emergency rooms have reported an upsurge of people injured in a fall because they were distracted by electronics.
Who knew that simply putting the FLOTUS' name in a headline with the phrase 'pedestrian deaths' would be so... sexy?

James Joyner has a really good response:
[W]hile I don’t pay much attention to the social campaigns of First Ladies, I don’t recall Mrs. Obama telling people that they should get drunk, strap on an iPod, and go wandering around the streets reading their BlackBerries. She’s advising people to get some exercise, not to go wander around in traffic. Yes, that’s technically a form of exercise. There are others.
This is simply the worst stretch that I've seen in a while to try and associate a political figure with, well, tragic deaths.

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Photo: Richard Termine