Car culture in the United States means that people often shun public transportation systems. They don't want to share space with strangers, they want the scheduling freedom that a car provides and they accept the higher cost of driving in exchange.
But what about the risk? Tens of thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year, with vastly more injured. Studies have found that it's far more dangerous to drive your own car than it is to use the public transportation system.
The best way to measure this is to look at all accident deaths per vehicle mile traveled. Obviously, only looking at overall deaths means car accidents are way ahead just because of the higher use. Adjusting for miles driven evens the playing field.
Even so, one study determined that the safest way to travel was by bus. It was a staggering 60 times safer than driving a car. The light rail or the metro is more dangerous, but still 30 times as safe as driving. Intercity rail lines and commuter lines clocked in at 20 times as safe.
Adding in cyclist deaths and pedestrian deaths does change the rate a bit, but the study found that car travel still had a fatality rate twice that of using transit systems. And that's just looking at the fatal accidents, not even delving into injury rates and things of this nature.
Are you shocked? Part of the reason is media coverage. A train crash that takes three lives makes headlines. However, over four people die per hour in car accidents, on average, so three people probably passed away while you were watching television coverage of the train crash. Car accidents are so common that the statistics are often ignored. It's similar to how people are afraid of flying more often than driving, even though every study shows it's vastly safer.
Where you injured in a car crash someone else caused? If so, you must know your legal rights.
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