TRAFFIC MORE LETHAL THAN WAR?

So says a World Health Organization report:

Traffic kills four times as many people as wars and far more people commit suicide than are murdered . . . .

In two reports on injuries, both accidental and deliberate, the United Nations (news – web sites) agency said they killed more than five million people in 2000, one tenth of the global death toll.

Nearly 90 percent of injury-related deaths took place in poorer countries.

Road deaths, totaling 1.26 million, claimed the highest number of victims, followed by suicide at 815,000 and interpersonal violence at 520,000.

Wars and conflict ranked sixth — between poisoning and falls — with 310,000 deaths.

Very interesting, if not all that surprising. It would be nice to have the following data for comparative purposes, though:

*How many people participate in driving as opposed to combat?

*Who is tracking the murder and suicide data? Are the indicators the same across the board in all countries?

*What constitutes “the poorer countries” and what percentage of the world’s population lives in them?

Saying one is more likely to be killed driving than in combat isn’t the same thing as saying driving is more lethal than combat. We’re more likely to die from choking on a hamburger than being struck by lightning; but I’d still rather eat a hamburger than get struck by lightning.

It seems reasonable that people are more likely to both have and die from accidents in poorer countries, since they’re presumably more likely to do dangerous manual labor and have worse health care. But the data as presented here are rather meaningless.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.