Cars kill more people than guns

Claudia Dreifus, a writer for the NY Times, recently interviewed Edward Humes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The subject of the interview is Humes’s latest book (pictured below) on the deadly dangers of automobiles. The book is titled “Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation” (what a terrible title, by the way), and here is one thought-provoking excerpt from the interview (edited by us for clarity):

In terms of public health, the National Safety Council’s data on car crashes showed that in 2015, 38,300 people died and 4.4 million were seriously injured [in the United States alone]. * * * And speeding, we know, is one of the major causes of fatal crashes. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 40 miles an hour has a 10 percent chance of surviving, and one struck by a car at 20 m.p.h. has a 90 percent chance. So when we post a 40-mile maximum speed limit on a boulevard where pedestrians walk, we’re saying that in the event of a crash, a 90 percent mortality rate is acceptable. These decisions matter. Each of us, over a lifetime, has a one-in-113 chance of dying in a car. That’s crazy, isn’t it? So we bolt extra safety devices onto our vehicles, seatbelts and airbags. Those are all great, but they don’t get to the fundamental problem: We drive way too fast to survive collisions. The bottom line is that speeding is one of the major causes of fatal crashes.

In other words, cars currently kill 3,000 people in the U.S. every month, and speeding is the main cause of most of these fatalities. Here is a review of Humes’s book.

Image result for The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation

This entry was posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Ethics, Law, Probability. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cars kill more people than guns

  1. Craig says:

    Cars are wielded like weapons on the highway at times — we’ve all experienced it, aggressive drivers riding our tails until we pull off to the next lane, then they zoom ahead to tail whoever is next in their path. And then they invariably exit at the next off-ramp. The problem is the impatient driver’s attitude (solipsism — “I’m the only driver on the road, the rest of you are just cars”).

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