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Just a thought following on from Duckie's last post, as well as the thread about the Trabant:

With the stringency (is that a word?) of US safety requirements, have any studies ever been done to test mortality / morbidity rates in accidents in the US v. other countries that aren't quite so stringent?

I'm not talking about Trabants, but countries like Australia, Japan, Western European countries etc.

I guess what I'm getting at is, is it all worth it? And can anyone provide proof that the tougher requirements in the US are actually saving lives or preventing injuries, or even preventing accidents in the first place.

Primm
*curious*
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Primm,

Both the number of fatalities and fatalities per mile have been dropping in the US for the last 30 years.

Here is the latest stats from NHSTA

The fatality rate on the nation's highways in 2004 was the lowest since record-keeping began 30 years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today. The number of alcohol-related fatalities also dropped for the second straight year.

All told, 42,636 people died on the nation's highways in 2004, down from 42,884 in 2003. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 1.46 in 2004, down from 1.48 in 2003. The fatality rate has been steadily improving since 1966 when 50,894 people died and the rate was 5.5.

Note that the fatality rate dropped from 5.5 per 100 million miles to 1.46. I would suspect that the rates in Europe are somewhat higher, due to the use of smaller cars and very high speeds on their major roads.
It used to be that the US safety and emission standards were far more strict than anywhere else. Over time Western European standards and US standards are converging. Credit that to the global economy. I'm more familiar with emission standards, but as Asian and European countries sell more in the US, they design more of thier cars to US standards. The problem would be with the smallest cars where the side impact and frontal impact tests would be difficult to pass.
That being said, driving a car is statisticlly the most hazardous activity that most Americans do.

Regards,
The Chief

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I went looking, and found comparative statistics for 2000 (the latest 
information I could find). These were the international comparisons:

Bear in mind that distances are km NOT miles, so the actual figures are
different to yours.

                          Road deaths/           Road deaths/100
                          100k population        million km travelled

Australia                 9.4                    1.0

Canada                    9.5                    0.9

France                    13.6                   1.5
 
Germany                   9.1                    1.2

Japan                     8.2                    1.3

Korea                     21.8                   3.9

New Zealand               12.1                   n/a

Poland                    16.3                   n/a

Spain                     14.5                   n/a

Sweden                    6.7                    n/a

Switzerland               8.3                    1.1

United Kingdom            6.0                    n/a

USA                       15.2                   0.9

OECD median               11.0                   1.3  

My statistical analysis of this?

1. Don't EVER drive in Korea. You will die.

2. There is a huge discrepancy between figures for population and 
figures for distances driven, and Americans drive further than anyone 
else.

3. People in New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK do not drive 
far enough to be able to extrapolate data related to distances driven.

4. The above is written tongue firmly in cheek.

Primm
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Almost all of the improvement in safety over the past 30 years can be attributed to three point belts. The contribution of everything else is negligible, and virtually none of the other safety equipment can function at all if the occupants aren't wearing their belts.

Of course, you can always trust politicians, car makers and insurance companies, right?

SB (would trade everything else for five point belts)(and stricter enforcement of drunk driving laws)


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"Almost all of the improvement in safety over the past 30 years can be attributed to three point belts"

I agree with most of the statement. However, I credit the improvement in crash worthiness to three point seat belts and crumple zones. The engine compartment and front end of the car is designed to crumble and dissapate energy in the process. This reduces the deceleration forces on the occupants which reduces the severity of the crash provided you are wearing a seat belt. The G forces resulting from deceleraion during a head on collision have been greatly reduced since the 1960's. Also, the cabins have been improved to maintain a survival space. This combinaton of a stronger cabin and a deformable front end when coupled with a three point seat belt has been shown to be very effective in reducing the severity of a frontal colliaion.
People get excited about air bags, but I regard them as minor contributors. They are probably more valuable at high speeds and pretty much useless under 25 mph.

Regards,
The Chief

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went looking, and found comparative statistics for 2000 (the latest
information I could find). These were the international comparisons:....


Does each country count road deaths using the same criteria ?


I wonder if some of the differences between some of the countries listed could be explained by having more pedestrians and bus passengers killed than other countries.

A place like Korea having many more pedestrian/bus riders killed than in the USA for example, where buses are pretty safe(for the most part) and lots of the driving is separated from where people walk(Interstate Highways) ??

food for thought


Pete

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However, I credit the improvement in crash worthiness to three point seat belts and crumple zones. The engine compartment and front end of the car is designed to crumble and dissapate energy in the process. This reduces the deceleration forces on the occupants which reduces the severity of the crash provided you are wearing a seat belt.

Okay, now let's try and figure this one out:

1) Mercedes-Benz had a patent for crumple zones in 1952 and the first car to have them was a Mercedes in 1959.

2) Three-point belts were developed by Volvo and first appeared in a 1959 Volvo.

(Both of the above were from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/escape/timecar.html .)

So, interestingly enough, them Europeans still don't show themselves as having MUCH fewer road deaths than other parts of the world (except maybe Korea ;-) ).


Duck
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"interestingly enough, them Europeans still don't show themselves as having MUCH fewer road deaths than other parts of the world"

Have you ever seen how Europeans drive - especially Germans? The gas pedal is nothing but an on-off switch. If their foot is on it, it's all the way to the floor, so they're either at a stop or its full speed ahead. There is lots of talk about the high-speed Autobahn, (which, for the most part is kind of narrow by our standards) but the majorityof the highways are narrow, winding, tree-lined two-lanes that do not forgive driver mistakes. Add to this the fact that half the drivers think they're Michael Schumacher, and it's easy to see why so many of them wind up like this:

www.averagjoe.com/0114w

~aj
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I would suspect that the rates in Europe are somewhat higher, due to the use of smaller cars and very high speeds on their major roads.


It's not the small cars that are dangerous. It's the large SUV hitting the small car. So I'll give you the high speed, but I'd say the car size actually decreases the death rate. Not so many roll-overs too, and less blather about personal freedom, so more seat belt use.
Proper driving tests in much of Europe too.
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RE: Wheee: "It's the large SUV hitting the small car"

How about the small car hitting the large SUV though?

SB (agrees about belt use and better testing)
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I just want to add one more thought to the mix. The fatality rates mentioned are gross averages. They are the mumber of deaths divided by the total number of miles. The distribution of fatality rates would be very intereting. I would wager that the fatality rate on US interstates is considerably lower than that of the European A roads (interstate equivalent}.
I drove around central Euroope for 2 weeks last summer. They have different ideas about road use that most Americans would find bizzare. First, you have to pay to use the A roads. There are no tolls, but you need to display a sticker (one per country thank you). So not only are you paying sky high taxes on gasoline, but you also pay extra to drive the limited access roads. The reason I mention this is coming.
So far so good. It just costs more. The trucks in Europe are limited to 110-120 km/hr. Unlike here, they really limit them through the use of govenrrs. At first I thought this was a good idea. I drive a long way into NJ every day and have to cope with some methed up, lead footed truck drivers who have no hesitation driving 20 ft behind you at 70 mph. And this is when you are in the right lane and there is traffic ahead of you as far as you can see.
Now getting back to Europe most of the A roads have a 130 km/hr speed limit. In reality there is essentially no speed limit in the left lane, but the right lane is limited to 110-120 depending on which truck is driving ahead of you. So if you want to drive 130 km/hr speed limit(about 75 mph) you need to get left to pass the slower trucks. This is where the fun starts.
It seems that some Europeans have an entitlement mentality when it comes to the use of the left lane on the A roads. Some of them get apolectic if you slow them down at all. It wouldn't be so bad all the cars had the same top speed, but they don't. Instead, it's "hey I got this Mercedes or Audi and you better not slow me down even if you are passing slower traffic because it is my right to drive 200 km/hr even though the speed limit is 130 km/hr". They seem to forget that everyomne pays the same toll and gas tax, and hence, has the same rights to the road.
The combination of slow moving trucks and idiots who think they own the left lane is an accident waiting to happen. The end point of this is when traffic density picks up to the point where the left lane loads up. Then the morons are content to drive 10 ft off your rear bumper just to show you that they don't like being slowed down by the 200 cars ahead of you.
This analysis applies to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and to a lesser extent Germany (well Bavaria anyway). Strangely, the Hungarians do not follow suit. They are very polite drivers. I would like to know the fatality rates for these roads based on exposure hours and not miles driven.
Next time, I'm taking a bag of golf balls with me. And if that doesn't get the message across, theres always my 357 magnum.

Regards,
The Chief


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