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Driving a car is one of the safer things you can do.

The purpose is to challenge the perception that road accident risk is a high risk. It isn't. The talk "If cars could talk..." begins with the statement that driving is dangerous. The theme in this talk is common throughout popular media.

We are saturated with messages about how dangerous it is to drive. This is not true. The facts say otherwise. Hence my example that the fatality risk of using stairs is 100 times greater.

Rate of deaths from stairs = 56 fatalities per 100 million miles.
Rate of deaths driving a car = 0.56 fatalities per 100 million miles.

As the proposed title says "driving a car is of the safer things you can do" which runs totally counter to the common mis-perception.


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  • Jun 21 2013: There is a catch on those statistics, I'm pretty sure the majority of the people that dies in a stair case is either too old, too sick or both, however most people dying in car accidents are either young, healthy or both, maybe if those statistics would take into account only the people with a driver's licence the numbers would yield a very different result. So, I'm not sure the statistics you present are accurate or even reliable, but even if they are I see nothing wrong with making cars even safer.

    We are saturated with messages about how dangerous it is to drive for one reason: As a driver you are not in full control of the situation. You control only ONE car, all the other cars and people on the streets are out of your control, you cannot predict which car is been driven by a drunk, or tired, or irritated, or reckless (or all of the above) driver. When you drive you are exposed to all sorts of impressible dangers, from a careless biker crossing you way to a tree branch falling unexpectedly, not to mention natural phenomena that can block your visibility, including rain, snow, fog, dust storms, etc, and which can trigger all sorts of unpredictably dangerous reactions on the drivers ahead and behind you. When you drive just a one second distraction can be enough to get you killed, to answer you cell phone while driving can be the last thing you do.
    • Jun 21 2013: Hi George, You raise an interesting point.

      In the case of falls they affect the the elderly disproportionately as you say but they also affect the very young in a "bathtub" curve shape so that will bring down the average age. For instance the NEISS data shows risk of injury (not fatality) from stairs, ramps, landings and floors (i.e. not just stairs) is highest for 0-4 and 65+ and about equal in between.

      The figures I used for fatal risk (from NBS) are not split by age. The risk calculations are here: http://goo.gl/TFfX4
      • Jun 22 2013: Ok, thanks for the reference, but I still think the way danger is measured is incorrect or at least counter intuitive, as an average it might be accurate, but in order to feel secure at any activity you need to feel you have control, (healthy) people feel in full control when they walk stairs or get inside the bathtub, it seems very unlikely to get killed due to someone else's mistake, when you drive however you are (or at least should be) aware you aren't in full control of the situation and it seems probable to get killed because someone else's mistake. So even if the data you show is reliable and accurate, the general perception is not that.

        But the regardless of statistics, I think trying to make cars safer is not a bad thing.
        • Jun 23 2013: Hi George, Yes, making cars safer is a good thing. But other things matter too.

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