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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  • 64 Comments
      Bob
      • 10 Months Ago
      Am i the only one that noticed people have become progressively worse drivers in the past 4 years alone. People can't even keep their cars in the lines anymore i stopped cycling altogether and each drive to school feels like it will be my last with oncoming traffic swerving into my lane and nobody signals anymore. We need new ways to keep morons off the road and i don't find it surprising at all that the US has high fatality rate from driving. A nation full of fat, lazy people on prescription med's not a good mix. Not to mention everyone stares at their phone while driving we are all screwed.
      Avinash Machado
      • 10 Months Ago
      I wonder how safe Iraq is for drivers.
        Jim R
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        Considering it's not highlighted red or green, it's probably not as bad as you think it is. You're more likely to be shot in Detroit than Baghdad.
          hokkaido76
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Jim R
          Someone needs to get their eyes checked....... Iraq IS highlighted in red on the map, which is most likely due to the prolific number of roadside IEDs, as opposed to bad driving habits.
          imoore
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Jim R
          I'm thinking more of Chicago rather than Detroit. But Meridian, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama could soon join those ranks.
      ksrcm
      • 10 Months Ago
      It didn't take long for armchair statisticians to start with "Yeah, but miles driven ...". Being a veteran to these discussions, it was to be expected. Now, for those who don't know, WHO (World Health Organization) has data for - deaths/100,000 pop - deaths/100,000 registered vehicles - deaths/ X miles driven and in neither of these U.S. looks good. Yes, it does look a lot better in deaths/ X miles driven, but if we need to adjust for that, I think we also need to adjust for how many targets you can hit with your vehicle. Everybody knows that driving in NYC is a whole lot different than driving on a rural highway in northern Minnesota. So, don't even go there because, if we were to adjust for lane miles available per registered vehicle to extrapolate traffic density, we would slide further down, not up. The brutal thing about these statistics is the realization that we, in U.S., get where we are going quite a bit slower than our European counterparts but, in return, also die a lot more than them. Can't beat that trade-off.
        tegdesign
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ksrcm
        I'm not sure why some people are so insistent in thinking we are safer drivers here in the US. They always seem to be the ones shouting SPEED KILLS! But whenever studies like these pop up, it appears one could make the opposite conclusion. But speeding does kill at anything over 35mph when it is Speed + eating a hamburger. Speed + texting. Speed plus not keeping all the way to the right exept to pass. Speed while putting on makeup. Speed + overtaking on the right.
      wilkegm
      • 10 Months Ago
      Right off the top of my head... 1. More people commute by car (due to poor mass-transit options and personal choice) High traffic densities coupled with pre/post work distractions. 2. AFAIK, all the places that post lower fatalities have more stringent drivers license standards. Here, if you can fog up a mirror and get C on multiple choice test (in your favorite language, no less), they'll turn you loose on the public. 3. We still have a fair bit of drunk driving.
        SpikedLemon
        • 10 Months Ago
        @wilkegm
        That wouldn't change the disparity from comparison to Canada where your list would be true there too. The surprising part is that much of the USA doesn't, normally, see poor winter conditions while the majority of Canada does. I would have expected Canada to have fared worst considering they have the winter as an "excuse" for an accident.
          flychinook
          • 10 Months Ago
          @SpikedLemon
          I think that actually works out to Canada's advantage. They have longer/harsher winters, so they're used to it. But when an area that doesn't see snow/ice very often gets a snowstorm, everybody freaks out and steers towards the nearest solid object. Look at what a winter storm did to Atlanta last week. Crashes and havoc everywhere. If the same storm happened in, say, Minnesota, they would have simply called it "Tuesday" and continued about their business.
      DesignWhuuu
      • 10 Months Ago
      now how about on a state by state basis...
      FuelToTheFire
      • 10 Months Ago
      I know for a FACT that the European figures are BS. One of my regular patients is originally from Germany, and he and I are both car enthusiasts, and we talk about arch every now and then. He said that the accident figures for European countries, especially Germany, are VASTLY under-reported. The Germans, due to their arrogance and nationalism, will do ANYTHING to look good, including fabricating figures. In reality, the death rate on German highways is 2-3 times those in the US, same goes for pretty much all of Europe. This really proves that in the end, SPEED KILLS. SPEED KILLS.
        rbnhd1144
        • 10 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You have patients, I thought you was the one in need of a doctor. I love how you group all of European countries together in your stupid statement. Germany is Germany, please yourself what you want to believe. I believe people in the UK are much better drivers, but they have a difficult drivers test, not like here where anyone can get a drivers license in a matter of hours. Ive noticed you always put the word FACT in capitals in your posts, so you really do believe all the CRAP you hear and post.
        Sean Conrad
        • 10 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Anecdote != fact
        tegdesign
        • 10 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        That is the most ridiculous thing I've yet read on AB.
      SouthernGuy
      • 10 Months Ago
      "It seems that we have some work to do to make our roads safer." Usually our roads are all right except for congestion. The real problems are: 1. Poor initial driver education 2. No retesting with age (deteriorated vision and reflexes) 3. Sloppy societal habits like right lane driving, eating, and texting. 4. Many vehicles too large and powerful for the skill set and physical stature of the driver (think of the rich painted ladies at the high-end malls in huge Lexus SUVs).
        imoore
        • 10 Months Ago
        @SouthernGuy
        How about poorly maintained cars that don't pass inspection or are registered in states, such as Alabama, that have no annual inspection. Here, if you can put an engine into a junker body and start it up, you can get insurance and get a plate. The sad part is, once the driver gets his plate, he will usually drop the insurance, then drive along the road without windows, parts hanging or falling off, belching smoke (the original coal rollers, I call them), balding or rotting tires, and my real complaint, the "home-made convertible." And if you are involved in an accident, good luck settling with the driver if he has no insurance.
          BG
          • 10 Months Ago
          @imoore
          You are right, I forgot to list poor vehicle maintenance. But you have junky cars in many Asian and Latin American countries, so that alone is not the cause of excess accidents. And on item 3 above, I meant LEFT lane hogging. Sorry. As for insurance, that comes into play after a wreck has occurred. It is disgraceful that we do not have in each state a failsafe system to link the car tag with valid insurance. No insurance = no plate, period.
        BlankaLi
        • 10 Months Ago
        @SouthernGuy
        Amen.
      Pat
      • 10 Months Ago
      Some American's stubbornness (in the name of freedom) not to wear seat-belts or helmets is the differentiator that comes to mind when I compare the US to Canada and other European nations.
        SouthernGuy
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Pat
        You are right. In my county in a southern state, we have about 40-50% of the annual traffic fatalities caused by the occupant being thrown from the vehicle. The victims were not wearing the seat belt, of course. Amazingly, often those are one-vehicle accidents, meaning a driver hit a tree or went down into a gully. Sometimes alcohol or drugs are involved, but sometimes there is no obvious cause.
      Tweaker
      • 10 Months Ago
      Because the Euros are so superior at EVERYTHING they do. Without correlating between deaths and miles driven. Idiots. I guess it is to be expected from Huffington media.
        user164
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Tweaker
        All hail the Euros. The guiding light of the world. Italian motorcycles, French cuisine, German engineering, Swiss chocolate, Japanese manufacturing, English... uh... taking the best of everybody's stuff(?). (I guess that might be our problem - we're, at our root, an English offshoot which means we value little of our own and put everyone else's stuff on a pedestal.) At some point it will be trendy to consider something American the best, if just to be different. We used to have movies, I guess, but now it's hip to make them somewhere else. :D
          Damo
          • 10 Months Ago
          @user164
          English....Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution, World Wide Web, Common Law, Bill of Rights, Steam Engine, the Computer, Electric motor, Newtonian Physics, Jet Engine, electric light bulb, and the English Language! So, we gave you the modern world, nothing much really....
      • 10 Months Ago
      [blocked]
        Bob
        • 10 Months Ago
        yes because Europeans don't have has many freedoms as us don't kid yourself
      ufgrat
      • 10 Months Ago
      If you want to improve driver safety in the US, improve driver education. The standard for getting a license in this country is pretty low.
        akitadog
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ufgrat
        The reason for the standard being so low is so jurisdictions can make money off of your lack of knowledge/skills/etc. It's ALWAYS about money. You know it's true. If everyone needed 100 hours behind the wheel, defensive-driving courses, and GRE-rivaling written exams to get a license, how would Podunk, MO make any money off their speed cameras and quota-filling ticket-writing deputies?
        Cruising
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ufgrat
        Improving drivers education can only go so far, driving is a discipline and like all disciplines you either have it or you don't. It's a mentality that needs to be changed not education.
          Hector Djibaou
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Cruising
          I'll have to agree with that, but one has to wonder what the Department of Transportation is doing. I mean we have 100 year old people still able to drive ... that's a bit scary especially if they've never had to renew driver licenses with actual physical tests and not just that Department of Motor Vehicles 'stand in line and re-take your picture bull'.
      Yarp
      • 10 Months Ago
      A more useful metric would be deaths per person mile traveled. Europe travels a whole lot less by car than the US, so it's no surprise their death by car accident is lower than the US.
        tegdesign
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Yarp
        So I could be wrong, but I think the deaths per mile might work in the opposite direction or at least be a fair comparison. Say ten people commute to work every day. The Europeans drive 10 miles to work and the Americans drive 20. Say each driver had an accident and dies after a year of driving. Which group has lowest deaths per mile average?
          tegdesign
          • 10 Months Ago
          @tegdesign
          Oh and there are published figures for deaths per mile and there are more deaths per mile driven in the USA.
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