Risky roads

On the subject of China… bq. Latest research shows that every day in China at least 300 people are killed in traffic accidents, ranking the country top in the world for both the death toll and the death rate. And the figure is accelerating by 10 per cent every year (reported in the “China Daily”:http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-04/12/content_322695.htm) That’s a huge rate of slaughter: 110,000 deaths and 560,000 injured on China’s roads last year. It’s more than 200 times the death rate from SARS (for example) which killed 349 people in China in the eight months from November, 2002 to July 2003 (“WHO”:http://www.who.int/csr/sars/country/table2003_09_23/en/ data), creating a much higher level of anxiety. But the ‘death rate’ rankings are not quite as bad as they seem. The deaths per registered vehicle in China apparently tops the world rankings at almost 11 per 10,000 vehicles (assuming 96 million, or thereabouts, cars on China’s roads). Australia, for comparison, had a death rate of 1.23 per 10,000 vehicles in 2003 (“TAC”:http://www.tacsafety.com.au/jsp/content/NavigationController.do?areaID=12&tierID=1&navID=2B65E0DC7F0000010071B4CA3ED986F3&navLink=null&pageID=83 data). But, China’s immense population size—as ever—puts the overall impact of the carnage in a different proportion. As a cause of death per 100,000 people China’s road toll is small beans at only 2.75, compared to Australia’s much more worrying levels of 8.21. Update: Oops! Better arithmetic spoils a good story. Getting the denominator right, the deaths per 100,000 in China are higher than in Australia: 8.73. This is alarming given that China has fewer vehicles per head of population.

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