The World’s Worst Drivers

worst-driversJust over 35,000 Americans were killed in automobile crashes in 2015, a 7% increase over the previous year, which represented the largest annual increase since 1965.  Does that mean Americans are less safe, or more safe, than drivers in other parts of the developed world?

Apparently the answer is “less.”  The U.S. has a rate of 10.9 deaths per 100,000 people, by far the highest among 19 developed nations, almost twice as high as the next-worst country (Belgium) and roughly on a par with Mexico.  Part of the explanation is that Americans drove more and more often than the citizens of other countries on the list.  When you look at the deaths per 100 million miles driven, America ranks only fourth-worst, behind Japan, Slovenia and Belgium.  The U.S. also has a higher share of rural roads than other countries.

ca-2016-9-4-worst-driversInterestingly, every nation on the list has managed to significantly reduce the number of fatalities, both on a per capita and a per-mile basis, over the past 15 years—the visible result of auto manufacturer safety innovations like anti-lock brakes, airbags and side-impact protections.  As the accompanying chart shows, with the light blue indicators showing 2000 data and the darker indicators showing 2013 statistics, the decrease has been dramatic—although less dramatic in the U.S. than in countries like Slovenia, France and Ireland.

Which country is the safest?  Sweden introduced a plan, in 1997, whose goal was to reduce fatal crashes to zero, and while that goal still remains unachieved, the country boasts the safest roads in the world.  One of its initiatives was to find ways to separate bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcycles from cars.  In the U.S., car users’ share of road deaths fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% last year, but fatalities of cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists rose from 25% of the total to 33%.

Would self-driving cars reduce the fatality statistics still further?  An article in The Economist quotes Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, saying that 94% of all crashes can be tied back to human choice or error.  Let’s hope the onboard navigation systems can avoid alcohol, sleep deprivation and the temptation to take risks so they’ll get to their destinations more quickly.


About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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