Converting the USA’s preferred ‘VMT’ rate of road deaths to the ‘Billion VKT’ rate used by the rest of the world shows a shockingly poor result for America

In monitoring its road safety standards, the USA prefers to use “deaths per 100 million Vehicle Miles Travelled” [VMT] rate, rather than the measure used by every other country, which is the “deaths per billion vehicle kilometres” [billion VKT] rate.

Does this matter?  Does it make any difference?  The answer is yes, it certainly does, even if only psychologically.  For anyone who does not know much about road safety it means that America’s rate cannot readily be compared with the rates in other countries.  This is a pity because frankly America’s rate of deaths measured against distance travelled has long been, or at least should have long been, a national embarrassment which the powers-that-be apparently do not want the American people to understand, and the tiny numbers that are used to indicate each year’s VMT rate make it look like there’s no problem at all.  But this apparently deliberate keeping people in the dark needs to stop.

Photograph of distracted rider and pedestrain, plus none-use of a crash helmet..
Some dangerous problems are found in many countries: distracted drivers, riders and pedestrians, none-use of seatbelts or crash helmets, etc. (Copyright image.)

So, first of all, let’s get the math out of the way that allows the VMT rate to be converted to the standard, global rate, in order that everyone can understand the situation.

Firstly, one billion kilometres is 621,371,192 miles, so divide that by 100 million and the answer is 6.214,  so whenever you see the VMT rate published, you just multiply it by 6.214 and you will have the internationally-recognized billion kilometre [billion VKT] rate.  Then, and only then, can you truly compare America’s road safety performance with the other ~29 developed nations of the world that along with the USA are members of the OECD*.

If you now look at Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015, you will see that not only does the USA lie in an extremely disappointing 18th place out of the 23 applicable countries for the year 2015 (the current latest figures) and has a billion-VKT death rate that is more than double the rate of the leading nations, but also — when the results are measured from the 25 years from 1990-2015, the USA has made dramatically less progress in cutting deaths than any other applicable country on the list.

From the figures, it can be seen that, if the USA could match the current, top billion-VKT results (i.e. Norway), approximately 22,000 lives would have been saved in road crashes in America in 2015 and even more in 2016 and 2017, because the number of deaths is increasing, year-on-year.  [Note:  This is a different result to the lives that could be saved if the U.S. were able to match the leading nations’ per capita rates, but given the way that countries’ rates do vary quite widely when using the various different metrics, this situation is not unusual.]

 

Footnote

*OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

 

Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at: http://www.advanceddrivers.com/ceochief-instructors-resumecvbio/

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