Stan the Statistician <<Last | Next>> | Current Stan | Archive Stan
Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 60: Car deaths June 2002

The Sun reports news of a lizard who was sobering up after travelling from the US in a barrel of beer. The eight-inch reptile was spotted by brewery staff staggering out of a barrel of pale ale after a six-day trip across the Atlantic and is sleeping it off at a pet rescue centre in Birmingham.

A leaflet I recently received through the post quoted a number of statistics without quoting a source. They were also misleading. For example, "1 in 7 of all deaths on the road involve drink drivers". It could be assumed that 'drink' refers to alcohol, though it did not actually say that. It also did not say if the 'drink drivers' were over the legal limit nor whether they caused the death. I could equally argue using these figures that 6 in 7 of all deaths on the road involve sober drivers therefore it is much safer to drink and drive.

"1 in 3 road deaths are speed related". What does this mean? Could it be that vehicles were actually moving when they hit someone? Or that pedestrians ran into stationary vehicles and killed themselves?

"Nationally, every year 40 people travelling in the front seats die after being hit by back seat passengers". Does this mean that the back seat passengers actually killed the front seat passengers or that the front seat passengers were hit by the back seat passengers but were actually killed by something else? Would they have been killed anyway? Maybe the back seat passengers had aruments with front seat passengers (maybe over who should sit where) and killed them in a fit of pique.

No one could argue that reducing deaths and injuries on the road is a Good Thing, but misusing figures is extremely dangerous. Eventually, no one believes any figure, any research, any survey.

The UK has one of the lowest death rates on the roads in the world - and should be congratulated on this whilst at the same time pushing for even better figures. I never see the congratulations bit. It would encourage people. Instead they are constantly harangued by Jonahs.

Since the introduction of speed cameras, the accident rate has increased considerably. Should I conclude that speed cameras cause accidents and should be removed?

When can we expect to see a campaign against avoidable deaths in the National Health Service? Far more people are killed by the NHS than are killed on the roads. When do we get our priorities right? How about cameras in NHS hospitals to record the number of people who die while waiting for appointments, operations, to be seen by a consultant, nurse or anyone, or even for a bed.

Why does no other European country take such draconian action against drivers when their death and accident rates are so much higher than ours?

The five most popular street names in the UK are:

  1. High Street

  2. Station Road

  3. Mill Lane

  4. Green Lane

  5. Park Road

In its first term in office, the Labour Government in the UK introduced a record-breaking 14,000 new regulations, none of which went through the procedures of Parliament. As they promised to reduce bureaucracy, I shudder to think what would have happened if they had promised to increase it. The cost of these new regulations is £15 billion. It produces no goods or services.

Is this you?

According to the UK Department for Education and Employment, almost 19% of employees work in workplaces operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One in eight employees work both Saturday and Sunday. Almost 11% of employees work 60 hours or more per week - typically in managerial and professional jobs. Sorry, got to get back to work now.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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