Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing New

The media continues with its hysteria generating and statistically meaningless holiday obsession:

Highway crashes boost road toll... The national holiday road toll is now 30.
...while Australian Transport Safety Bureau figures and studies reveal the truth that the only thing that changes during holiday periods is the nature of accidents and that the body count is the same as any other time of year:

Characteristics of Fatal Road Crashes During National Holiday Periods

The study examines annual trends in road fatality numbers for Christmas and Easter holiday periods, and undertakes a comparative analysis of crash factors between holiday periods and the remainder of the year. Pronounced year to year fluctuations in the data suggest that the number of people killed in any given holiday period is significantly influenced by random events. An analysis of average number of deaths per day found that fatality rates during holiday periods were not systematically higher or lower than fatality rates at other times of the year. The study also found no evidence of any change in the involvement of primary causal factors (speeding, alcohol or fatigue). The findings are broadly consistent with the results of a similar study undertaken in 2003.
The media also ignores the fact that fatalities generally have been trending downward for years and that this Christmas-New Year's figures are actually looking good so far.

Nonetheless, their rote-like hysterics are found useful by police and politicians seeking ever more excuses to install flash for cash speed cameras that contribute little to safety - and may, in fact, create a dangerous distraction for motorists - but pour much into state coffers so they can afford the really important stuff.

-- Nick

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