Surprise, surprise: U.S. ranks 42nd out of 48 countries in deaths per capita

When you hear that the US is 42nd out of 48 countries when it comes to number of deaths per capita, it might sound like a good thing. Until you find out that the rankings go from lowest to highest -- which means, yes, that of the measured countries, there are only six places where driving is more deadly than the Land of the Free. (Tip: you might want to avoid driving in Russia and Lithuania for a few more years.)

The posited reasons are varied and numerous, and include the brevity of driver training, lax laws, weak enforcement, no emphasis on public transport, little public awareness, and a lack of Federal legislation. Regardless of the causes, the effect is that it's riskier to get behind the wheel here than it is in the Poland or Estonia. This is despite the fact that cars have gotten exponentially safer, and the US leads the world in the adoption of electronic stability control, said to be "the greatest life-saving technology since the seat belt."

If there's any consolation, it's that the US does considerably better in the number of fatalities per mile driven, where the US comes in at number 11. Before you celebrate, in 1970 the US was number one. Which country has the lowest number of fatalities per capita? Malta.

[Source: New York Times]

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