Here in Los Angeles, there were less fireworks shows than ever before; during the 2000 new year's celebration, the city of Los Angeles opted to have no fireworks as part of the millennium celebration, instead the then-mayor and others decided to put an extremely lame fiber-optic light net over the Hollywood sign and consider that a reasonable public celebratory effort for one of the most famous cities on the planet. Personal fireworks are illegal in the city (though not in the county) beyond poppers -- which are fun in their own right but not a reasonable exchange for actual fireworks. But why?
In the US in 2001, there were 9,500 injuries attributed to fireworks, either directly or indirectly related. That's a lot of injuries, but consider this:
The average number of fireworks-related deaths between '95 and '99 were approximately 16 people a year.
- in 1997, there were about 9,590 injuries attributed to automobile accidents every single day that year, a total of 3.5 million injuries;
- same year, around 69,000 pedestrians were injured from traffic-related incidents;
- in '98, over 2 million people called poison control centers in response to poisoning incidents;
- nearly 600,000 people annually are treated in emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries.
- in '97, there were around 42,000 people killed in auto accidents, 115 deaths per day;
- same year, 5,220 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related incidents, that works out to around 14 per day;
- in '98, 5,606 teenagers and 2,027 children were killed in car crashes;
- same year, 38% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related;
- again, same year, 758 people were killed from bicycle-related injuries;
- in 2000, there were 160 children killed from choking, 10 times as many as the overall average (children and adult) fireworks-related deaths.* most of the above figures came from the CDC website.Certainly fireworks are dangerous, and so-called "safe & sane" fireworks that people can buy legally from stores account for more injuries than illegal fireworks, often because adults think the "safe & sane" label means it's ok to give children red-hot sparklers and other inappropriate-for-children fireworks.
But my question is, why is our society so afraid and hyperreactive to fireworks when they account for less injuries than walking down the street, riding a bike, or accidental poisonings and far less deaths than cigarettes, alcohol, driving, and choking? Wouldn't it be better to simply properly-educate the public on safe fireworks use and crack down on irresponsible parents who give their kids fireworks than to simply prohibit the use of fireworks - especially when these kinds of prohibitions have been proven to be routinely ineffective and actually lead to increased use of illegal and more-dangerous substances?