You are over ten times more likely to die of cancer or heart disease in the US than die in an auto accident – at least, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The examination uses World Health Organization data to compare the rates of death by car accidents, heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease in 193 countries.

Worldwide, auto fatalities average 18 per 100,000 people, according to the study. The safest country to drive in is the tiny Maldives in the Indian Ocean with just 2 fatalities per 100,000 drivers. The most dangerous is Namibia at 45 per 100,000. The US ranks slightly below the average at 14/100k.

World Auto FatalitiesWhile America's figure is admittedly tiny, it is much higher than other, comparable countries. The UK, Japan, Switzerland and Sweden all ranked at 5 deaths per 100,000 people. It is also safer to drive in Canada (8), France (7) and Germany (6) than the US. It seems that we have some work to do to make our roads safer. The image at the right shows the 25 safest countries in green and 25 most dangerous in red.

The most interesting figures in the study are the percentages comparing car crash deaths to the other illnesses. With these figures in mind, the United Arab Emirates becomes the most dangerous country for drivers with 15.9 percent of deaths caused by auto accidents. The world average is just 2.1 percent, and the US is slightly lower than average at 1.8 percent, which is still higher than most of Europe.

The data provides an interesting point of comparison. The US is actually worse than average in terms of heart disease and cancer, even though driving deaths rank better than average. If you're curious and want to read the entire academic report, it is available here as a pdf.

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