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Highway Death Rates in Europe Now Fewer than in U.S...

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Nov 20th, 2017, 09:23 AM
  #1
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Highway Death Rates in Europe Now Fewer than in U.S...

reversing a trend that not long ago had deaths per mile driven in most European countries much higher than in U.S.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/19/o...ng-deaths.html

Like France not long ago about 25 deaths per billion miles driven and now about 5.

whilst U.S. was about 13 and and is now about 7. And every major European country cited was higher and now lower than U.S.

No doubt zero tolerance in countries like France about alcohol levels and speed controls thru cameras, etc and better roads and safer cars may be factors (though one would think Europe's smaller cars could be more dangerous?

Anyway rather interesting that we in U.S. have seemingly lagged in improving safety on our roads vs what Europe has done.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 09:29 AM
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What is the status regarding texting and driving in Europe? Allowed, tolerated?

Interestingly the article made no mention of cell phone use while driving, euphemistically called "distracted" driving, which is unquestionably a factor in the US.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 10:13 AM
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Of course it's not allowed Nelson. Texting while driving is dangerous. If caught you'll get a large fine. I'm sure not all countries are equally vigilant, but it's not allowed anywhere.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 10:15 AM
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though one would think Europe's smaller cars could be more dangerous?

Large cars are much dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Of which there are more on the roads in most European countries.


Speed control cameras and fines work. Traffic deaths are much lower in the Netherlands compared to Belgium. Guess where you are more likely to get a fine when speeding...
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Nov 20th, 2017, 11:10 AM
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And the article says we let 16 year old drive on their own - most European countries it's 18 I believe?

But yes texting and driving is rife in my state though technically illegal I think - not sure but I've seen many close calls when someone was texting.

And perhaps more women drive in U.S. than Europe? (A joke!)
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Nov 20th, 2017, 02:31 PM
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A good portion of highway fatal accidents I’ve heard of have nothing to do with distracted or drunk driving, or teens. Usually it’s inclement weather, black ice. So I don’t think booze or cell phones or age of driver have much to do with the difference between US and Europe.

I can believe that speed control is definitely an issue, though. And it could also be that the US is more prone to have inexperienced or fatigued or elderly drivers on the road than Europe. Transit coverage is better in Europe, licenses are probably more expensive to get. Here, even if you don’t want to drive, you’re much more likely to have a license and car because in a lot of places, it is not possible to do without. I don’t like driving, and I won’t claim to be excellent at it, but I can’t rely on others, so I’ve gotten a lot better in the last decade because I’ve been more reliant on my car. It’s not practical for me to fly home, nearly impossible to take a bus or train home. The infrastructure is just not there.

And as another example- my uncles debated for probably over a decade on whether they should get my grandmother’s license taken away but it always came down to it being impractical. Not to mention that they’d be the ones seriously inconvenienced if they did so. She had to be able to drive 45 minutes to the grocery store, an hour to her doctor’s.

So I think the difference might be that the US is in general a lot more car reliant. Licenses are cheap, easy to get, and plenty of people run cars that are probably not safe on the road because they can not afford to replace them but they also can not do without.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 03:34 PM
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marvelousmouse - all that is fine but how do you account for the fact that not long ago the situation was reversed - Europe was much higher and now is lower in just relatively a few years. Negates much of your theory I think and there must be other factors involved or what you say is now true was not just a few years ago.

something happened over there to bring death rates down -ours have gone down too but not nearly as much.

Europe has done something to lower more dramatically the death rate and this is regardless of weather which was also steady through both periods.

Interesting to think about. Why was France so high just a few years ago and now so low? Less driving in Europe could be a factor with less congested roads as many cities have banned most private vehicles - like London and Italy but I think it is the zero tolerance for speeding with cameras and roadside checks for alcohol, etc and bans on texting that may well be more accountable. And perhaps Europe has just built safer roads - in France my son says there are round-abouts everywhere now and zigzags in roads in high pedestrian areas, etc. speed limits once ignored by all now strictly enforced, etc.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 04:55 PM
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No, sorry, wasn’t clear. I agree that increased enforcement through traffic cams and higher fines are certainly a factor in why the rates have fallen in places like France. I just mean that I think the driving culture in the US is different, more people on the roads that shouldn’t be, and so the rate for US would be more difficult to reduce drastically, like France apparently has. I think the problems that both the US and Europe have are similar, but that the US has the problem of more cars and more roads. Quantity, basically. And likely an inconsistency between state laws.

Many international students I went to to school with didn’t drive or own a car until they moved here. They commuted by train or bus at home. Maybe they aren’t the norm. But I would think that when you’ve got a much higher portion of the population on the road, and fewer alternatives, you have less of a chance of reducing accidents.

But I’ve never taken a driving test is another country. For those of you who have, how do the fees and difficulty compare? Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s equally easy to own a car and get your license in France. I got my license without ever seeing a roundabout, being able to parallel park, driving in traffic, or merging on the interstate. Because none of those things were an issue in my hometown. And I’ve gathered it’s pretty hard to lose your license too. The only people I know who have had their licenses even suspended have committed pretty serious traffic infractions. If you get a DUI in France, can you continue to drive in the future? Does zero tolerance mean no alcohol in the blood or no chance to get your license back or both? Because I could see the US doing the first, but I don’t think it would make much difference if they did the second as well.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 05:46 PM
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It's not just Europe. As the article notes, the US fatality rate is about 40% higher than in Australia and Canada, and in 1990 both those countries had a higher rate of fatality than the US.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 11:26 PM
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Europe has a much denser population than US. so we have more cars on a stretch of road than US where you can drive long distances without seeing nobody.

So I would have said that it is basically more accident prone to drive one mile in Europe which means stricter laws and speed cameras work in terms of life savings

PQ. I told a good friend recently that 'women at the wheel death at the first turn ' (it rhymes in french'. Just before remembering her second daughter was killed in a car crash.

We call that a moment of solitude in French.

My wife drives much better than I do brw.
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Nov 20th, 2017, 11:48 PM
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I heard a report on the radio yesterday that young male drivers are the most accident prone. Women generally are safer drivers than men. Dangerous driving, speeding; mostly men.

I had a friend who died while texting and driving. I cannot believe people who do that or condone it. Hefty fines are justified.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 02:20 AM
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Re driving lessons: I just paid 540 euro for 6 hours of lessons + exam for one of my children. The exam is tough, most don't pass the first time. If you fail twice you must take 6 more hours of lessons before you can take the exam again. If you cause a serious accident or are caught drink driving within 2 years of getting your license, you will loose your license and have to take the exam again in order to get it back.

You don't have to take lessons, you can teach your kids yourself. But you have to first take lessons if you want to teach your children.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 03:10 AM
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Just my personal observations after driving appr. 100K miles in more than 20 (US) states:

The interstates are often in surprisingly bad shape. Especially in metropolitan areas. I usually rent an SUV not because I want to drive off-road but to have some leeway with regard to pot holes.
In addition, roadway marking and lines are poorly visible, esp. in bad weather.

Even in densely populated areas, roadway maintenance appears to be somewhat negligant to move obstacles like blown tires or other debris from the lanes or breakdown lanes.

Older inner city freeways often have, in addition to wear and tear, so many exits in very short distance from each other. So you see stunts like going across 6 lanes with 1/4 mile to take the next exit. IMO, 10 or 12 lane freeways shouldn't have more exits than every other 2 miles.

In construction zones, I often find the speed limit too high with respect to the layout of lanes and visibility of roadway marking.

In lesser populated areas, the straight line design leads to fatigue if you go on and on for 20 miles without any visual input to keep you alert.

OTOH, when you hit a new or well-maintained section of interstates, driving is much easier and less stressful than in Europe.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 03:46 AM
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Getting a license in the US is too easy. Case in point, my 17 year old daughter who just got one, but really should not be left alone to drive yet. But she THINKS she knows what she is doing.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 04:24 AM
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No it is not. It is ridiculously costly, time-consuming, and painful. About 1,000 euros a person if you're lucky and don't require a lot of time with the instructor. And there are 40,000 questions in the Code to memorize, only 40 of which you'll be tested on - but you don't know which 40. It's pretty rare for anyone to pass the written test the first time, and it costs about 400 euros every time.

You can, however, buy and drive a voiture sans permet (for about 30,000 euros) and avoid having a license at all. And you can drive one at the age of 14.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 04:32 AM
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Here in the UK it's illegal to use a cellphone (mobile) in any way while driving. Getting caught results in a hefty fine and minimum 3 points on the licence. 12 points over three years results in disqualification. Sitting in your car with the engine running while stationary using a phone is classed as use while driving. You can't use your phone if you're supervising a learner driver.

How is this dealt with in the US? Does it vary from from state to state? Does any European country allow any use of a mobile while driving?
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Nov 21st, 2017, 04:42 AM
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Rubicund - it's not quite correct to say mobiles cannot be used in any way while driving. It's still completely legal to use a hands-free phone in the UK - provided you remain in full control of the vehicle. Many cars have the necessary Bluetooth technology to support this.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 07:40 AM
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Did not I read that in France old folks and anyone with no record of infractions can keep their licenses forever. I know my son's old French aunt was driving in her 90s and was terrible -could never have passed a driving test.
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