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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