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1. In order to complete his analysis on DD, he needs to compute the dangers of taking a cab. It is not uncommon for a cab driver to be stoned, drunk, talking on the phone, and/or texting, particularly at night.

I was hoping the "what English sounds like to foreigners" would be spoken word. As it is, I have a hard time understanding pop lyrics, so this doesn't sound so weird to me.

I don't think he is condoning drunk driving and I think the per-mile comparison is the right one. However I think he is wrong, for a reason he identifies.

I believe there is huge selection bias when it comes to "how drunk are you" and if you held the level of drunkness constant walking is safer. Pedestrians who get killed drunk walking are likely to be much more drunk than drivers who get killed, my guess at factors:

1) They are "too drunk to drive" and are walking

2) Don't own/can't use a car due to drinking/alcoholism related factors (lost license, homeless, steering wheel mounted breathalyser etc)

3) Live in areas where few people own cars and culturally they drink more because most people take cabs and walk (dense cities)

Relatedly, I suspect a significant number of the drunk walking deaths are on the way to a car anyway (not sure how much of the national walking is done on the way to and from your car but it's a risk you are taking regardless of your choice here)

@BCQ: Agree, I think the English-to-foreigners link says more about period (70s?) pop music than the actual sound of the language.

Obviously hard to render this as text, but I once asked a room of foreigners (European mostly) what an abstract American sounds like. The consensus answer was something like a loud, obnoxiously-toned "raaaaah raaaah raaah."

The English sounds pretty much like English except I can't understand the words. It's kind of odd, I didn't think it would sound like English until I listened to it.

The DD analysis is flawed in a few ways.

It only looks at fatalities as a cost. One of the largest costs of drunk driving is getting caught doing it or getting into a non-fatal accident. We're talking fines, loss of license, possible loss of job, property damage, if you get in an accident possible jail time etc.

The other is the assumption of driving distance = walking distance. This is a false assumption since the decision to walk/drive is typically made before getting drunk. I don't drive to a bar within walking distance, I only drive to a bar if it is outside the distance I want to walk. My bet is that the average and median drunk walk is much shorter than the average and median drunk drive.

Other way around: Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times, fake Italian http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT57MGaR02I

Danny Kaye in some movies would speak or sing (probably mostly the latter) nonsense syllables that sounded like French--and possilby other languages too. It has been a long time since I have seen a Danny Kaye movie, but my recollection is that it "sounded" very authentic.

The first comment basically sums up my thoughts:

"The real problem with your analysis is that I don’t care if some drunk idiot gets himself killed while walking. I *do* care if a drunk driver kills someone *else*."

Also, in Europe, jay-walking on most roads is legal because the roads are smaller, have lower speeds and less traffic. Most of the fatalities from "drunk walking" in America are from people trying to cross four or six lane highways.

Danny Kaye in some movies would speak or sing (probably mostly the latter) nonsense syllables that sounded like French

Sid Caesar was a genius at this.

that italian singer singing in fake english sounds good because he is one of the best italian singer ever, named adriano celentano. also the blonde dancer with him is one of the most famous italian tv personalities, raffaella carra'.

As a former cab driver (more than 5 years), I can tell you cabbies don't like hauling people who are too drunk.

If the drunk has money (I always asked for $20 up front), they rarely tip. And on occasion they puke in your cab or on the side of your cab, necessitating a money losing trip back to the garage or to a car wash.

And not sure how many cabbies drive high or stoned, but I never did. Not worth it, not just because of potential car crashes or getting stopped by the cops, but because not being alert increases your chances of being robbed or hurt because you didn't pay attention to who you were picking up.

It's not just you nice middle class folks who read MR who take cabs.

If drunk, ride a motorbike - you are pretty unlikely to kill anyone but yourself. (Unless anyone here can show otherwise?)

If drunk, ride a motorbike - you are pretty unlikely to kill anyone but yourself. (Unless anyone here can show otherwise?)

Except you can get a DUI, which I'd bet is more common than killing or injuring yourself. In California riding a bike doesn't count as a DUI, despite what a policeman might tell you. The law is clear that if it's propelled solely by human power it is not a vehicle. There is a separate law against drunk biking, but it's a max $250 fine.

The biggest flaw to the article is not looking at non-fatal accidents and DUIs as costs.

In Slavic countries, consumption of alcohol is rather high. Accordingly, so is # of crashes caused by drunk driving.

The cops in Czechia, Slovakia or Poland (can't speak of Russia...) are very hard on drinkers behind the wheel. You will get your licence suspended for a year or even go to jail (depending on the total content of alcohol in blood). Zero tolerance in law and in reality.

Nevertheless, the road controls manage to catch a significant number of drunk drivers every Friday and Saturday evening. People know very well it is not worth the cost, but still they try.

Having been confronted by constant massive behavior like this, I sometimes lose faith in human rationality.

Levitt's calculation of the "cost of drunk driving" only includes the loss-of-life. A AAA study showed that the nation spends $162B/yr on non-fatality accident costs: property damage, medical care, etc.. That's about $4.4 million in property losses per fatal accident, which is the same order as the cost in "$6M lives".

So, if Levitt calculates that driving drunk costs $3.75 per mile in lives, then it actually costs $6.5 per mile in lives+property. Take the &#$^% taxicab!

Bernard Shaw remarked that Britain and America
are two countries divided by a common language.
Having lived on both sides of the pond, here
are some observations. You can distinguish an
American from a Britisher by asking them to
pronounce "Birmingham". If an American says he
cannot do without "writing" an Englishman may
not be able to tell if he means "riding,"
except from the context. The English round
the "o" sound much more than Americans. Years
ago an upper-class Englishman who had to catch
an early flight in New York telephoned the
receptionist at his hotel and asked what he
needed to do be "called" in the morning, and she
replied (it was winter), "Aren't you cold enough
yet?" My guess is that to American ears English
speech sounds a bit artificial and to English
ones American speech sounds casual.
In comparison with this, how English sounds to
foreigners is a minefield. Bernard Shaw, who
thought English pronunciation irrational, once
translated "ghoti" into "fish": after all, the
"gh" in "enough" is "f"; the "o" in "women"
is "i," as it is in a cultivated English
accent; and "ti" is "sh" in "information".

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