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Is There Anything You Can Do to Prevent Deaths on the Road?

Analysis by Dr. Peter Attia

road trip safety

Story at-a-glance -

  • Nearly 18,000 automotive accidents occur every day in the U.S., on average. This frequency multiplied by the low severity still amounted to nearly 37,000 automotive fatalities in 2018
  • Of all drivers killed in U.S. automotive accidents in 2017, 18% occurred on a freeway, which is actually lower than expected. In fact, there are more drivers killed in intersections (20%) than on freeways
  • The primary conditions that lead to road fatalities are: alcohol, speeding and distraction leading to a loss of control or contact with another vehicle. Avoid these risk factors to improve your chances of not becoming a statistic on the road
  • Remember that even though you’ve driven countless times without a scratch, it does not give you a pass to be more complacent and lose your focus. Always take safety measures every time you get behind the wheel

We may mistakenly believe that the chances of dying are greater in the air than on the road because the severity of aviation accidents can be devastating. Compare that to automotive accidents where the probability of dying in a given automotive accident is about one half of 1 percent. Here’s the rub, unfortunately: nearly 18,000 automotive accidents occur every day in the US, on average.

This frequency multiplied by the low severity still amounted to nearly 37,000 automotive fatalities in 2018. To put this difference into perspective, between 2000 and 2018 there were 778 fatalities from US scheduled air travel. Over the same time span, there were 723,530 automotive fatalities — almost 1,000 times greater than the number of fatalities from scheduled air travel.


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