The office of national statistics produce figures on the fatality rates per billion Km travelled. These are from ONS Social Trends vol 40
Fatality Rates by Mode of Transport
per billion passenger Km.
|Bus or coach||0.1|
What does this show?
- You would have to cycle an average of 41,667,000 Km to be statistically likely to die. You would have to travel 3.33333333 × 109 Km by train (if my maths isn’t wonky)
Changes in Death Rates since 1981
|Bus or coach||0.3||0.2||0.1|
There have been big improvements in road safety. Though, this has been greatest in car and van transport. This is probably a reflection in the improved safety features of car design.
Limitations of Fatalities per Km
- It doesn’t take into account health benefits of different forms of transport. e.g. cycling and walking help prevent certain fatal disease such as Heart disease and strokes. These are much bigger killers than transport accidents.
- Death rates for cycling is inverse to the numbers cycling. In countries such as US, there is the lowest cycle use, but, the highest rate of death per KM. Netherlands has a higher cycle use, and one of the lowest death rates. See: Death rates per country
- Within these modes of transport, there can be a big variance depending on how you use the form of transport. For example, fatality rates for cyclists will be higher amongst inexperienced cyclists who cycle at night without lights e.t.c. Car use is much safer for long motorway journeys.
These figures could be interpreted in a variety of ways. For example, I wouldn’t suggest that pedestrians walk around the streets wearing a cycle helmet, (though it might make as much sense as making cycle helmets compulsory.)
It is also a shame, the UK promoted car use at the expense of other forms of transport such as rail use. Rail and bus travel are much safer than driving, but it has been the car that has been promoted above all else.