The Geography of Road Danger

Mortality caused by Road Traffic Injury by Country

This color-coded traffic fatality chart is via ChartsBin. Iraq is one country that leaps out, and I’m not sure what part the road danger there is due to absence of government structure, bad infrastructure, or whether war/insurgency-related deaths (e.g., IEDs) are coded as traffic fatalities. Not to mention, from accounts I’ve seen, the idea that people often have to drive in a riskier fashion to simply avoid becoming the target of danger. Then there’s other, difficult to quantify ideas, such as that people living in a war environment might develop a more fatalistic view toward life.

Angola scores high too; I imagine it’s an offset of the country’s oil industry — more people with cars suddenly hitting the road.

This is of course per 100,000 population, which doesn’t account for the amount of exposure; given the average number of miles driven in the U.S. versus, say, Sierra Leone, really makes the statistics stand out. But there’s another overwhelming difference between the typical African country and the U.S., as CUNY’s Greg Chen points out:

One striking feature of road traffic crashes and injuries in Africa is its high involvement of, and impact on, the most vulnerable road users, the pedestrian and the passengers in public transportations, such as buses and minibuses. The literature review shows that pedestrian crashes account for more than 40 percent of crashes in most of Africa countries. For example, pedestrians accounted for 55% of road traffic deaths in Mozambique between 1993 and 2000 (Romao et al, 2003). Pedestrians account for 46% of road traffic deaths in Ghana between 1994 and 1998 (Afukaar et al, 2003). Pedestrian and passenger crashes represented 80% of all road traffic deaths in Kenya in 1990 (Odero et al, 2003).

And there’s another way to think about the statistics on a per 100,000 level; one might read the low per population rate in a country like Denmark not simply as the result of it being a small country, and hence fewer miles to traverse, but that people there simply don’t have to drive as much. Exposure, after all, is one ‘five Es” of traffic safety, along with education, enforcement, engineering, emergency response.

(thanks Peter)

This entry was posted on Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 3:01 pm and is filed under Roads, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

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Metropolis and Mobile Life
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November 2009

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