Statistics

by pauland1707

Considering the gentleman’s predicament with his expanding doobry, we thought it wise to look into the relative safety of public transport methods compared against other forms of transport.  You see, it’s a classic case of the public perception of risk being out of tune with the real stuff.  Indeed, in these days of dominance by the scare-loving media – “Don’t eat margarine, it will kill you”, “Pencils, a sure cause of IBS”, “Pernod is bad for your parts” – and a Government steered by focus groups, the public perception is a highly volatile matter.  Statistics too, wobble about all over the shoppe particularly when you’re having a sniff around the ol’ public transport department and where one incident can cause a large number of fatalities.

Another feature of transport risk is that the impact of the numbers is very dependent on how you represent them.  Basically, and stay with us here because this is quite interesting, there are three possible ways of quoting transport risk; in terms of distance travelled, the number of journeys made or the length of time taken in travelling.  Interested parties, you will not be surprised to read, tend to favour the the one that best suits their own purposes, the sneaky wee things!

The air transport industry, for example, will almost always choose a per km basis, which is optimum for them, as most fatalities occur on landing and take-off, while the intervening distances are large*.  Land based transport, including buses obviously will, in contrast, select fatalities per number of journeys or hours of travel, since the risks are uniformly spread.  So wahay, they’re all able to demonstrate that theirs is the safest form of transport.  Now for the nitty-gritty, these is the real numbers: the actual statistics (taken from an article by Roger Ford in Modern Railways, Oct 2000 (always an unmissable read) and based on a DETR survey). They record the number of fatalities per billion km, journeys or hours of travel.

km

journeys

hours

Air 0.05

Bus 4.3

Bus 11.1

Bus 0.4

Rail 20

Rail 30

Rail 0.6

Van 20

Air 30.8

Van 1.2

Car 40

Water 50

Water 2.6

Foot 40

Van 60

Car 3.1

Water 90

Car 130

Pedal cycle 44.6

Air 117

Foot 220

Foot 54.2

Pedal cycle 170

Pedal cycle 550

Motorcycle 108.9

Motorcycle 1,640

Motorcycle 4,840

Clearly, the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb is that, whichever way you look at it, motorcycles are quite the most dangerous form of transport.  Indeed, if you take into account the relative youth of their victims, by recording loss of quality life expectancy rather than just deaths, they dwarf the usual suspects of political correctness, such as tobacco and alcohol, which mainly afflict the elderly.

But what’s this, buses and trains are the safest form of transport by any measure, despite the press furore that greets any particular incident.  The constantancy with which more personal forms of transport, including strolling about aimlessly, knock off the population does not produce the sort of numbers that excite the media.  So don’t forget, go by bus, it’s safer.

This was a public safety announcement from the relative safety of _Paul_And_Land_.

*Don’t let this ruin your holiday in Tunisia.

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