I’ve been writing in recent weeks about highway safety statistics, built around the fact that last year, the nation recorded the lowest number of road deaths-an estimated 37,313-since 1961, and a rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled of 1.28, the lowest rate ever recorded in the U. S.
These are significant achievements for all of us, as well as the police who enforce traffic laws, the engineers who design safer cars and roadways, the legislators who pass seat belt use laws, and even the bureaucrats who collect, analyze and disseminate safety statistics.
But how do we compare with other advanced countries with relatively modern roads, cars and well-trained, experienced drivers? It used to be the United States had significantly lower fatality rates than leading Western European countries. Alas, no more.
Indeed, according to the International Transport Forum’s 4 July 2008 provisional report for calendar year 2007, the U. S. ranked 11th in fatality rates at 8.8 per billion kilometers traveled (BKT). In order of relative safety ahead of Americans were Sweden and Switzerland at 5.9 per BKT, Great Britain at 6.3, Finland at 6.4, Norway at 6.5, Germany at 7.4, Netherlands and Denmark at 7.7, Australia at 7.9 and France at 8.5. (more…)