Sunday 1 September 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about  my FFDE (far from death experience) of being whacked off my bike by a txter i/c car aka careless driver. Maybe what I should have done is follow the actions in this (youtube) Russian dashcam story.  It could have been worse.  Globally, it turned out worse for about 1.3 million people last year who were killed by vehicles on the road - that's more than the number who succumb to malaria.  The Pulitzer Center recently presented an informative, interactive map to display the data. It's getting worse each year, especially in the third world, as more people get rich enough to afford a set of gas-powered wheels, but not rich enough to buy one with adequate tires, brakes and steering, let alone a course of driver education.

If you come from a country other than Ireland you should check out the stats at home.  In Ireland  it reports a rate of 4.7 deaths/100,000. That puts us at the lower end of Western Europe - apart from Portugal the most dangerous countries to travel/walk in the EU are all in The East.  A great many of the third-world countries are colour-coded on an estimate of road deaths rather than reported road deaths.  Pakistan, in the example they choose to highlight, has rate of 17.4/100,000 which is credible while the reported 5,192 deaths would give a rate of 2.9/100,000: lower than Iceland, the safest country. 

I shouldn't be reporting it as 17.4 because the last digit doesn't compute with Wikipedia's estimate of the population of Pakistan (182.5 million) although 17/100,000 does.  And we should take the low estimate for Iceland with a small pinch of salt because of stochastic effects (the law of small numbers).  Only 320,000 people live in Iceland (much less than in Belfast) so if the road deaths p.a. slip from 9 to 11 the death rate leaps from 2.7 to 3.3, so let's call it 3/100,000 for Iceland.  And search The Blob for "spurious accuracy".

And here's an oddity identified by El Asturiano.  Whereas the reported road deaths matches the estimated road deaths for Ireland and Spain, there's a substantial discrepancy for our neighbour the UK.  The Pulitzer people crank up a reported 1,905 UK deaths to an estimated 2,278, neither of us could figure out why.  Is it that none of the road deaths involving Pakistanis living in Britain are reported?  Nope! 2% of UK inhabitants (about 12.6 x 100,000) are of Pakistani origin, and about 50 of these get killed on the roads each year assuming the same rate of their neighbours. So there are still more than 300 unaccounted under-reported deaths in the UK.

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