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Friday, July 8, 2016

90 People Per Day Die in the US in Auto Accidents: Buckle Your Seat Belts!!

Thanks to Rebecca Clark for pointing me to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control that compares deaths from auto accidents in the US with those in a group of other rich countries. Three conclusions stand out: (1) the US has the highest fatality rate compared to 19 other rich countries; (2) seat belt use in accidents in the US is lower than in almost every other country; and (3) alcohol-related accidents are higher than in almost every other country. You can see the issue: We have found the enemy and it is us.
During 2013, 87% front seat belt use and 78% rear seat belt use were reported nationally in the United States (Table 2). Among comparison countries, front seat belt use ranged from 86% (Austria) to 99% (France) with a mean of 94.1% and a median of 95.0%. The United States ranked 18th out of 20 countries for front seat belt use. Among comparison countries, rear seat belt use ranged from 65% (Austria) to 97% (Germany) with a mean of 82.1% and a median of 84%. The United States ranked 13th in rear seat belt use among 18 countries reporting.
Alcohol-impaired driving was involved in 31% of U.S. motor vehicle crash deaths. Percentages of crash deaths that involved alcohol-impaired driving across 18 countries reporting these data ranged from 3.2% (Israel) to 33.6% (Canada) (mean = 19.1%; median = 18.0%) (Table 2)...The United States tied with New Zealand for the second highest percentage of motor vehicle crash deaths related to alcohol impairment, and had the eighth highest percentage of speeding involved deaths (Table 2).
Driving under the influence of alcohol and under the influence of stupidity (why else wouldn't people buckle their seat belts?) represent aspects of personal discipline that are more amenable to social pressure and social control than to legal limitations. To be sure, cars could be designed not to start if the driver has too high an alcohol level and/or a seat belt is not buckled--and it may come to that--but a little self-control could go a long way. I Googled to see if there is a relationship between people who are opposed to vaccinations and those opposed to using seat belts. There's a lot of relevant chatter, but no hard data that I could find. Maybe CDC could check into that...

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