Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Case for Toyota

Writing in Reason, Ronald Bailey on the Toyota panic:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the reported cases of sudden acceleration are for real and not being cobbled together by greedy drivers and unscrupulous plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking jackpots from playing civil jury roulette. How dangerous is driving a Toyota? First, consider that last year highway fatalities in the U.S. fell to 33,963, which is the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1954. Taking the number of miles traveled into account, the 2009 traffic fatality rate is the lowest ever at 1.16 deaths per 100,000,000 vehicle miles traveled. Nevertheless, this means that on average 93 people per day died in traffic accidents in the U.S. last year. Assuming that 52 people really have died in Toyota sudden acceleration events over the past decade that would net out to 0.015 people killed per day. Thus the 2009 daily rate of traffic deaths was 6,200 times higher than deaths from sudden acceleration incidents. To get a sense of the risks we run, the daily traffic death rate also compares to the 20 people per day who die from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, mostly to manage the symptoms of arthritis. In other words, you are 1,300 times more likely to die from taking aspirin or other NSAID than from a sudden acceleration accident.

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