Blog: Dave LeggettSafety on the roads

Dave Leggett | 24 April 2007

There seems to be a fair bit of media noise around concerning safety on the roads at the moment. Michael Schumacher was on the TV news last night highlighting the global carnage on the roads. Maybe he fancies a job as an FIA safety ambassador.

Yes, of course, the figures are horrendous sounding and more should be done to reduce accidents on the roads. The casualty figures are especially bad in developing markets where a basic safety culture (like wearing seat belts) is often absent.

But here’s a statement that jumped off the page a bit: ‘Car Crashes Leading Cause of Death of Americans Travelling Abroad’. A report is to be released tomorrow by the US State Department on Data. It’s by Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr -- "Road Crash Deaths of American Travelers: The Make Roads Safe Report; An Analysis of US State Department Data on Unnatural Causes of Death to US Citizens Abroad (2004-2006)". There is some sort of press conference tomorrow in Washington DC.

So, there’s something for you Yanks out there to think about next time you jump into a hire car when travelling abroad. Funny. I'd have thought being in the US Army and sent on tour to Iraq might be  a little bit more life threatening (okay, maybe that was excluded from the analysis).

Post-script:

This must have something to do with the sheer numbers involved as something I have just read suggests that military deaths are included: "Traffic accidents are the number one cause of nonnatural death of American citizens abroad, including those under Chief of Mission authority."

That would mean that there are a very large number of Americans travelling abroad and that even a small percentage of crashes resulted in more deaths, in absolute terms, than those arising on military duty overseas. However, it would still, I suspect, be much riskier to be a serviceman/woman in Iraq than a civilian on overseas vacation in a Hertz - it's just that the numbers are smaller. My earlier comment highlights the dangers in drawing quick inferences from stats.


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