Road deaths, or: what do people die of?

While travelling, we spent lots of time on the road. And in some countries, traffic seemed pretty chaotic. To check whether this perception was correct, we checked rates of road deaths. These seem to be usually reported as a number per 100’000 inhabitants per year. And indeed, some roads travelled are more dangerous than others: Thailand has a whopping 36.2 road deaths per 100’000 inhabitants per year, making it the second-most dangerous country to travel on roads (only ‘topped’ by Lybia). Vietnam and Malaysia also still have fairly high numbers – 24.5 and 24, respectively – but they’re already about a third safer than Thailand. As a comparison: it’s 4.3 road deaths per 100’000 inhabitants per year in Germany, and 2.6 in Switzerland. (Source: these numbers come from the WHO and/or Wikipedia.) The Swiss numbers have been visualised in a more detailed way recently by SRF – see here (in German).

Well – we made it back home safely! But I became curious about causes of death in general, and once more, ourworldindata has an article with fantastic graphics on this; you can find it here. It turns out that globally, road death is one of the top ten killers with 1.34 mio deaths, or 2.45% of all 55 mio deaths in 2016. The biggest killer by far is cardiovascular disease – this includes hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and more – with over 30% of all deaths. Cancer follows next, then respiratory diseases and diabetes. Together, these top 4 killers are also called non-communicable diseases and accounted for over 70% of all deaths worldwide in 2016.

Of course, there are differences between different countries – the differences in road deaths is just one of them. In most countries, for instance, the number of suicides far outnumber the number of homicides – though there are exceptions such as Brazil and South Africa, which are discussed in the ourworldindata article.

Better than me telling you about it, though, is if you go explore the data for yourself: Follow the link below for the bargraph on the share of deaths by different causes which you can play around with, or check out the complete article from ourworldindata.

Have fun, despite the lethal topic!

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