- Car crashes kill 400 times more people than international
terrorism does in developed countries
- The death toll from car crashes in developed countries
is almost 400 times greater than the number of deaths caused by international
terrorism, reports a study in the latest issue of Injury Prevention.
- In 2001 as many people died every 26 days on US roads
as died in the terrorist bombings of 9/11, the study shows.
- The authors compared the number of deaths from international
terrorism and car crashes in the 29 member countries of the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) between 1994 and 2003.
- They used the US State Department Counterterrorism Office
database for deaths caused by international terrorist activity, and the
OECD International Road Transport Accident Database for 2000 and 2001 for
those caused by car crashes.
- For the 29 OECD countries, 33 acts of international terrorism
occurred during the study period, accounting for 3064 deaths, excluding
those of the perpetrators.
- The attacks all occurred in 10 of the OECD countries,
with the highest number of fatal attacks in Turkey.
- The annual death rate from car crashes was around 390
times higher than the death toll from international terrorism.
- Among the 10 countries where people had died as a result
of international terrorism, the ratio of road deaths to terrorist deaths
ranged from 142 times greater in the US to over 55,000 times greater in
- Deaths from car crashes were equivalent to the impact
of a 9/11 attack every nine day, for all the countries put together.
- The authors cite other evidence, suggesting that the
number of Americans who avoided flying after 9/11 and were subsequently
killed in car crashes was higher than the total number of passengers who
died on the four 9/11 flights.
- The authors are at pains not to minimise the emotional,
economic, and political impacts of terrorism. But they point out there
is a huge difference in the scale of death between terrorism and car crashes.
And the evidence to inform policy is also much greater for car crashes.
- "Policy makers need to consider these issues when
allocating resources towards preventable interventions that can save lives
from these two avoidable causes of mortality," they conclude.
- Deaths from international terrorism compared with road
crash deaths in OECD countries [Injury Prevention 2005; 11: 332-3]
- Emma Dickinson
- BMJ Specialty Journals
- First published 12-1-5