Road safety

by on January 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm in History | Permalink

Odds in New York City in 1900 of dying in a horse accident: 1 in 19,000

Odds today of dying there in an automobile accident: 1 in 26,000

That is from the February 2011 Harper's Index.

1 kebko January 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I also heard once that cowboys tended to spend about 6 months' pay on a horse, which seemed to be similar to what we pay for our cars today.

2 bcg January 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm

It's per year. http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2010/pr056-10…. That's from November. 1,467 over a 5-year period for 8,000,000 per year comes out to (1,467)/(8,000,000 people * 5 years) reduces to about 1/27,000.

3 Chris January 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm

1 in 19,000 what?

4 altereggo January 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Don’t forget that many of these deaths would have occurred in the dark, cramped stables where urban horses were kept.
Young stable boys had a very high mortality rate, and many horse-related injuries were unavoidably fatal back then: internal-bleeding, anyone?

5 citizen January 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm

The comparison here is not quite right. We should note that the relative risk of dying by automobile accident today is higher than the risk of of dying in a horse accident in 1900: the ratio of death rate today versus death rate in 1900 is smaller than that of the road accidents being compared here.

6 joan January 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

In cities traffic accidents kill pedestrian not drivers or in 1900 riders.

7 Six Ounces January 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Cars have a metal cage, bumpers, seat belts, and air bags. On congested streets they don’t travel much faster than a carriage.

Ambulance response times are faster, first responder care is better, more hospitals, better trauma care.

Traffic control is better.

The relevant statistic is the number of accidents, not deaths. All this says is that the benefits of technology have more than offset the increased danger of greater congestion and faster average speeds. Not really surprising, but interesting nonetheless.

I think you’ve mentioned it here before, but I believe states where cars are required to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks are less safe for pedestrians. Moreover, pedestrians are the least cost avoiders, and hence property rights should be assigned away from them for a more efficient use of the commons.

8 Ace K January 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Don't forget that these statistics also take into account the fact that it's much easier for New Yorkers to get around in 2011 without taking a car than it was to get around in 1900 without taking a horse.

The millions of people who ride the New York City Subway are essentially exempt from these death totals; it's impossible to die on the streets if you're under them.

9 dearieme January 14, 2011 at 2:51 am

I've never been hurt in a car accident but I was blooded when taught to back-somersault by a horse, using the hoof-to-mouth method.

10 Rachel January 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

Per capita, lame brain. I am getting so tired of the titillating but ultimately mind numb stats thrown out by this website.

11 Bartman January 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

“1 in 19,000” isn’t a statment of odds, it is a fraction.

A statement of odds should be phrased as “odds for” or “odds against”, and should be stated as “x to y”. For example, “the odds for getting killed in a horse accident in 1900 were 1 to 19,000”, or “the odds against getting killed in a horse accident in 1900 were 19,000 to 1”.

“The odds of dying…” is a nonsensical statement. What the writer means is “the probability of dying…”

12 JonF January 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I suspect vastly superior trauma care today plays a big role in these stats.

13 Andreas Moser January 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

It would be interesting to know how the population density (and maybe even the number of commuters into the city) of NYC has changed in the past 100 years. I would assume that it has become much more crowded, which makes the reduced risk of death (per capita) more remarkable.

14 Bellaplex January 27, 2011 at 2:38 am

Mere banning alcohol is not enough. An awareness campaign must be run by the govt. to make people aware of the harmful effects of alcohol.

15 Safety Signs February 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

A Road accident has become a major issue for consideration. So many people die day by day in road accidents. Till the time our management team will not take important steps to reduce accidents, ratio of accidents will not reduce. Some suggestions are given below to reduce accidents:
1) Increase awareness about road safety among road users, planners and engineers.
2) Speed controlling measures such as speed bumps, rumble strips, road markings, traffic signs, and roundabouts.
3) Building of separate non-motorized traffic and motorcycle lanes to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
4) Strict rules and implementation of the laws
5) The people must realize themselves and respect the laws

Safety Signs

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