Getting the Scale and Seriousness of US Road Crashes in Perspective

It is effectively inevitable that road safety advocates will use air crash data to try to get people to understand the staggering seriousness of road crashes when compared to commercial plane crashes, but even then the true scale is rarely stated.

Wikimedia Commons: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 ‘G-TUMA’ TUI Airways (46886857481). Copyright-free photograph by Alan Wilson, from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs., UK

The latest plane crash to grab the headlines is the tragic loss of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 that had just taken off from Addis Ababa, in the beautiful country of Ethiopia.

All of the 157 people on board were killed.

This post is not in any way here to belittle the tragedy of plane crashes, but apart from being numerically very rare incidents, the deaths from these attention-grabbing events pale into insignificance when compared to road fatalities — not only in the USA but worldwide.

8,350 plane crashes a year!

The 157 people killed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight is about the same number of deaths as just 1.5 days’ worth of road fatalities in the USA alone. And on a global scale, the plane crash created approximately the same number of lost souls as the roads of the world kill every one hour two minutes and fifty seconds — in other words, there are approximately 3,600 road deaths worldwide every single day of the year. Put another way, global road deaths are the equivalent of 23 air crashes on the scale of the Ethiopia tragedy every single day.

That would be 8,350 plane crashes a year.

What is it about this outrageously lethal situation on roads that the human psyche seemingly refuses or chooses not to ‘get’?

And now, President Trump has apparently signed an order, grounding all 737 MAX 8 flights because of two crashes involving this type of plane in a five-month period.

The scene of a fatal road crash we came across during an ADoNA advanced driving course in the USA. (Copyright image, 2012.)

For the USA, two such air crashes every three days would match the number of road deaths in any given period of time. Globally, it would need a similar-scale air crash every two hours and six minutes to create the same number of deaths as do the roads of the world.

However, the two 737 MAX 8 crashes got swift and firm White House intervention while the 37,000 [NHTSA figure] or 40,000 [NSC figure] deaths each year on the roads of the US get what? The answer is that apart from the crash-reducing effects of the 2008-2010 recession, not much difference in the number of deaths, year on year on year!

And yet the reason given by the President of the USA for banning the plane from flying was that it was “to protect people’s lives.”

All this means is that the inaccurate priorities start at the very top.

And herein lies one key reason why the USA is one of the very worst-performing developed nations in the world for road safety, with a per capita death-rate more than four-times worse than those in the leading nations. Indeed, if the USA could simply match the achievements of the leading nations, more than 27,000 American deaths and potentially hundreds of thousands of serious injuries would be prevented every single year.

Another extremely regrettable reason for America’s poor performance in this field is that even the basic US road safety standards do not meet the minimum requirements of the World Health Organisation in relation to poor countries!

If anyone believes this article to be unpatriotic or, worse, anti-American, please think again. This truly great nation certainly could do better and definitely should do better, for the sake of the American people.

__________

Please be aware that this website is registered with the United States Copyright Office and that punitive legal action for damages may be taken against anyone who breaches our copyright. This, however, does not stop you from posting links to any of our pages, and you are welcome to do so. [Wikimedia aircraft photograph excluded from ADoNA copyright.]

USA Commercial Trucking & SUV Fatalities Up Significantly

Despite the fact that data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Oct. 3 indicates highway fatalities declined overall in 2017 after two consecutive years of large increases, the agency added that highway fatalities in 2017 jumped significantly in the sport utility vehicle or SUV category and commercial trucking sector. Fatalities among SUV occupants climbed 3 percent, and deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers jumped 5.8 percent.

Photo looking down on a fast-moving semi-tractor-trailer.
Semi-tractor-trailer.  Copyright image.

Clearly, the reduction in overall deaths is very much to be welcomed, however it still needs to be viewed relative to the USA, in the long-term, still being the poorest-performing of 30 developed nations.

.

See the AASHTO article about the NHTSA figures.

International Road Safety Annual Report 2018 – The USA Does Very Badly Again

In the latest edition of what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive international summary of global road safety each year, the mission statement for the USA is:  ‘Dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle safety and reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.’  However, as the following figures and references will show, this stated goal may be true regarding the intent but actual U.S. outcomes over recent decades have been a very long way indeed from any “highest standards of excellence.”

Photograph of the scene of a fatal road crash in the USA.
A fatal road traffic crash (not “accident”) which I encountered by chance during my frequent travel to conduct safe / defensive / advanced driving courses throughout the USA. (Copyright image, 2012.)

Continue reading “International Road Safety Annual Report 2018 – The USA Does Very Badly Again”

Around 3,000 Americans are Killed by Vehicles Each Year just on Parking Lots, Driveways and Private Roads

According to the National Safety Council [NSC], the number of people killed in the USA during 2017 in road accidents once again exceeded 40,000, following major increases in such deaths during the years since the end of the financial recession.

Aerial view of cars and pedestrians in a parking lot.
People innocently walking across a parking lot, oblivious to risk, yet several vehicles are unsafely parked — nose inwards, rather than backing into the slot and parking nose-outwards — just one thing that increases the risk, especially when children are around. (Copyright image.)

A year ago, the NSC estimated that the 2016 death toll was about 3,000 fatalities more than the eventual official figure of 37,461 which was subsequently issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], however the NSC explain this apparent discrepancy with the fact that ‘the government counts only deaths on public roads, while the council includes parking lots, driveways and private roads.’

In other words, about 3,000 “additional” people — an average of eight per day — are killed each year in vehicular crashes but do not qualify for inclusion in the official statistics, yet this is an additional eight percent and a lot of those killed in such circumstances are children.  The fact that these incidents involve deaths on parking lots and private driveways serves to illustrate the true level of dangers in places than many people unthinkingly tend to dismiss as being low-risk locations, but that is clearly not the case.

As always, our ADoNA defensive and advanced safe driving courses include research-based, best-practise methods to help your corporate drivers or chauffeurs stay safe and protect other people in relevant locations.

You can read the full article, from USA Today, regarding the NSC estimate for 2017 road deaths.

Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015

The USA is unique in measuring deaths-by-distance-travelled per 100 million miles, which is referred to as the “Vehicle Miles Traveled” [VMT] rate.  The rest of the international community, on the other hand, use one billion vehicle kilometres [“billion VKT”] for the metric, and that is the case in the following list. (View an easy method to convert the US VMT rate to the international figures.)

Photograph of rush-hour highway traffic, Washington D.C.
Rush-hour traffic, Washington D.C. (Copyright image.)

Continue reading “Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015”

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

 

Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016

Figures released by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.  This followed an inaccurate estimation earlier this year by the National Safety Council [NSC] that the figure would be approximately 40,200.

In the context of the NSC’s miscalculation, the lower, more recent, and obviously more accurate figure from the USDOT and NHTSA is a relief but the situation is still very bad news.  Apart from the 5.6% increase in fatalities from 2015-2016, the fact is that since 2014 the number of deaths on America’s roads and highways has soared swiftly upwards from 32,744 to 37,461, a two-year increase of 14.4 percent, representing almost 5,000 “extra” deaths in 2016 alone.

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials, for two separate crashes on either side of this road at this one location in Illinois. Photo: Copyright 2012.

Continue reading “Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016”

Multi-National ‘Per Capita’ Road Death Rates for 2015 (as published in Oct. 2017)

Rate(a) . Country

  1. 2.3. . . ..Norway
  2. 2.7. . . . Sweden
  3. 2.8 . . . .United Kingdom
  4. 3.1. . . . .Denmark
  5. 3.1. . . . .Switzerland
  6. 3.5. . . . Ireland
  7. 3.6. . . . Spain
  8. 3.7. . . . Netherlands
  9. 3.8. . . . Israel
  10. 3.8. . . . Japan
  11. 4.3. . . . Germany
  12. 4.9. . . . Finland
  13. 4.9. . . . Iceland (b)
  14. 5.1. . . . .Australia
  15. 5.2. . . . Canada
  16. 5.4. . . . France
  17. 5.6. . . . Austria
  18. 5.6. . . . Italy
  19. 5.7. . . . Portugal
  20. 5.8. . . . Slovenia
  21. 6.4. . . . Luxembourg (b)
  22. 6.5. . . . Belgium
  23. 6.5. . . . Hungary
  24. 6.9. . . . New Zealand
  25. 7.0. . . . Czech Republic
  26. 7.3. . . . Greece
  27. 7.7. . . . Poland
  28. 8.3. . . . Lithuania
  29. 8.4. . . . Serbia
  30. 9.1. . . . Korea
  31. 10.9. . . United States (c)
  32. 11.1.. . . .Morocco
  33. 11.9. . . .Chile
  34. 12.4 . . .Argentina (d)
  35. 13.3. . . Mexico
  36. 14.5. . . Cambodia
  37. 14.6. . . Uruguay
  38. 21.5. . . Malaysia
  39. 23.6. . .South Africa

Source: ITF / OECD  (colored groupings added by ADoNA)

Footnotes:

(a)  Rate of road deaths per 100,000 members of the national population

(b)  Iceland and Luxembourg experience the most inconsistent annual rates due to their very small population sizes

(c)  Statistics published by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that during 2016 US road deaths increased by a further 5.6 percent and the per capita rate of deaths rose to 11.59 — See: Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016

(d)  2014 data (OECD)

Also see: Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015

Numbering in the left-hand column is only for easy reference. Countries with identical rates should not be separated or ranked by this.

Green text: A rate under 3

Orange text: A rate less than double that of the leading country

Purple text: A rate 2-4 times greater than that of the leading country

Red text: A ‘per capita’ rate more than four times higher than that of the leading country

 

Two Critical USDOT / NHTSA Statistics Identify a Very Bad Situation in American Highway Safety

Perhaps 6-8 years ago, the US DOT and NHTSA published a statistic online that identified a thoroughly horrifying situation.  Put simply, it said that the chances for every young person in the USA being involved in a serious-injury or fatal road crash at some point in their life is an astonishingly-high “fifty-fifty.”  At that time, I looked at my four American step-daughters and wondered which two — statistically speaking — it might be.  That statistic, however, very swiftly disappeared off the Internet.

Now, however, I also have six American grandchildren, and just today — August 11, 2017 — another statistic has been published on Facebook by NHTSA which very effectively renews my concerns.  It said exactly this:

NHTSA 1 hrThe chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is one in three over the course of a lifetime. #BuzzedDriving 
 .

Photograph of the scene of a fatal road crash in the USA.
A fatal road traffic crash (not “accident”) which I came across by chance on my travels in the USA. Copyright image.

Around 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and >250 are killed each year in traffic crashes

Lawmakers Decry Two Hit-And-Run Road Deaths in Brooklyn

…Police say that at 12:28 a.m, Saturday, Neftaly Ramirez, 27, was biking along Franklin Street in Greenpoint when he was struck by a white and green garbage truck traveling southbound on Franklin at the intersection of Noble Street. The driver, who police say worked for a private sanitation company, did not stop, and by the time police and EMS workers arrived, Ramirez was dead. The driver has not been found and the case remains under investigation.
Continue reading “Around 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and >250 are killed each year in traffic crashes”