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'The USA's dangerous driving culture'

	From last week's <i>The Lancet</i>:
in 2013, 32 894 people died in vehicle crashes in the USA, equating to a death rate of 10·3 per 100 000 population. This was by far the highest rate of all 20 countries, and nearly twice as high as the comparison countries.
    Sadly, the most obvious factors are to blame: alcohol-impaired driving caused a third of the US crashes, and the USA has one of the lowest rankings for

use of seat belts, with only 87% of car users using front-seat belts and 78% using rear-seat belts. Additionally, the USA defines drunk driving as a blood alcohol
concentration of 0·08%, whereas most of the other comparison countries use lower limits of 0·02-0·05%. The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
noted that, per year in the USA, around 3000 lives could be saved by increasing seat-belt use to 100%, and up to 10 000 lives could be saved by eliminating
alcohol-impaired driving.

Driving while under the influence and texting should not be mixed with driving. Have responded to several DUI’s, fortunately no serious injuries with those. Did have one where a guy flipped his car, was able to get out on his own, was DUI, had a DUI interlock which he had bypassed. The cops were not impressed. Unless he has a great attorney he is facing jail time for that. Had two wrecks where the driver was texting, the road turned the driver did not. One kid was very badly injured, car wrapped around a tree. Another rode up on a guide rail and took out a phone pole. Had two fatalities with folks who were not wearing their seat belts. One was a young guy, speeding on the interstate, changing lanes quickly, flipped his car and was ejected. Died at the scene, if he had his seat belt on he would have survived, would have been sore for a few days but survived. Another couple flipped their mini van on the interstate, both ejected. Both died at the scene, if you hit the pavement at highway speeds, things will not end well. Please wear your seat belts, don’t drink/text and drive. Also with some cars the air bags will not deploy unless the seat belts are fastened as they are a supplemental safety system, the belts are primary.

This is a very misleading article, I believe that in most of the countries studied , the average driver puts on only half the miles of a US driver.


Yes, very misleading. The US death is 7.1 deaths per billion vehicle km, less than Japan, Spain, and Belgium, close to New Zealand and Canada. Could it be better? Sure. Is it a disgrace? Nope.

Could it be better? Sure. Is it a disgrace? Nope.

It’s a complete disgrace. Cities account for a large portion of all accidents…and drivers in most cities are aggressive, inconsiderate and down right rude. That’s not something I’d be proud of.

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I hadn’t thought about the difference in mileages. If Mr texases points me to the source for the statistics he cites I will reply at ‘The Lancet’.

And almost 5000 of those traffic fatalities are pedestrians…and in a study done in Florida, 80% were the fault of the pedestrian.

A strangely high percentage of pedestrian deaths (and injuries) are from drunk pedestrians. Between 40 and 60% depending on the study.

Cities are where pedestrians congregate… I don’t see many pedestrians wandering around the open coutryside.

So to recap - Mike says city drivers are angry and aggressive (they are), Pedestrians cause most of their own deaths by careless or drunk walking (perfectly legal most anywhere) and pedestrians are mostly in the cities.

So do we just ban cities thus relaxing those stressed drivers and eliminate pedestrians? Or do we ban cars and trucks from the cities forcing MORE people to become pedestrians ripe for the death and destruction by public transportation? (tongue firmly in cheek!) Discuss…

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The rates are per million miles travelled, so he comparison is fair. The US has twice the highway deaths than Germany and other countries with good road systems. The Canadian rate is comparable to the US, 32,000 deaths per year compared to 3300 for Canada with 1/10 the population.

I agree that these rates are too high, but they are the same in total as in the mid 50s when miles driven was only 1/16 of what they are today. In that respect we have made much progress.

Many states like MA the pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk. Most MA and NH drivers ignore that law. One school where my daughter played for the travel soccer team you park across a semi busy street from the fields. Over the years kids have been hit by cars and and several accidents because the driver slammed on his brakes because people were in the cross walk. Many people blame the people in the crosswalk. Never the driver who was driving 20mph over the speed limit.

Concord NH has taken this law seriously. They have several cops in the downtown area during their busy times watching and writing tickets. And it’s working. People are actually driving more cautiously through that area.

The six countries with the lowest fatalities per 100 megamiles:
Sweden, UK, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland & Norway.
“come with me if you want to live”

Those statistics are from:

IMHO as long as we keep leaving those with multiple DUI convictions on the road and let them keep their cars drunk driving will continue unabated. If someone is stopped for DUI and fails a field sobriety test, their car should be impounded… no matter WHO owns it. If they’re acquitted, the car should be returned without charges. If they’re convicted, the car should be confiscated by the state and auctioned to fund programs against drunk driving.

Nobody can drive drunk without a car. And nobody is going to loan a convicted drunk driver THEIR car if they know they might lose theirs as well. In short, those convicted of DUI will end up taking the bus or walking. And those who don’t want to end up walking won’t drive drunk.

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The 2 key issues are Driver Training and Law enforcement. The average US driver would have problems passing an English or German driver exam. Roads in those countries are much more crowded and speed higher, yet the fatality rate is lower. Drunk driver penalties are so high in Scandinavian countries that the Designated Driver concept originated there. In Sweden they PAY the designated driver when they go to a party.

The US has good and less crowded roads, many newer cars, and lower highway speeds. All these should result in lower fatalities, but the opposite is true.

Ironically, the US pioneered car safety design but stopped at doing something about the “nut behind the wheel”.

If someone is stopped for DUI and fails a field sobriety test, their car should be impounded… no matter WHO owns it.

I’d have a problem with that. There are lots of scenarios in which someone might loan somebody their car without having reason to suspect that that person would then take it out on a drunken joyride.

I’d rather have the loaned car considered stolen if you do anything illegal in it. That not only gives you another charge to pile on the drunk, but also doesn’t hold innocent people responsible for the actions of others.

I’ve seen cases where such laws have been enacted, and they’re often used (and abused) to take property from people who didn’t do anything wrong. There have been a number of cases where civil forfeiture laws were used to take people’s houses away from them because unbeknownst to them their (often adult) kid got caught with drugs while in the house. There are countless other cases where property (money, cars, equipment, houses, you name it) is seized “on suspicion that it was involved in a crime,” and then the property owner has to prove the property’s innocence even after courts have determined that the owner did nothing wrong.

It boils down to quazi-legal government kleptomania, and I’d not be in favor of strengthening the ability of law enforcement to engage in it.


Some jurisdictions are simply committing highway robbery:

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Yep. And if they extend this practice to DWI laws, it’ll be really awful, because in many states if you are in close proximity to your vehicle and you have the keys, you are legally in “command, and control” of the vehicle and are therefore guilty of drunk driving even if the key is in your pocket and the car hasn’t even been started.

People have been arrested on DWI charges when they were sleeping it off in the back seat, in the parking lot of the bar where they got drunk. Let the cops confiscate any car they want in DWI busts and it will be open season on getting cars to sell at auction. They can then use the proceeds to do anything they want, including paying their own salaries, or even buying alcohol and drink-making equipment to use in office parties.

Note that the CDC stands for Center for Disease Control. Now they have morphed into injury prevention. Just one of my pet peeves. There is still enough disease issues to deal with concerning food borne imports, exotics being spread from global transportation, and so on that we should leave injury prevention to someone else. Next they’ll take on terrorism.

When I heard that I am most likely to have an accident within 50 miles of my home…I moved.



It seems to me the improvement is likely due to significant improvements in the automobile. We have disk brakes all around and suspensions are much better too. People can, and do, drive far faster than they used to and they are still safer than before.

@jt Yes, highway design and car design all have improved massively. What has not improved is the average driving skills.