Facts & Myths
- Age Groups
- Average Speed
- Braking
- Cause of Death
- Cell Phones
- Hidden Camera Trial
- Independent Reviews
- Injury Trends
- Kinetic Energy
- Kloeden Critique
- Overtaking
- Overtaking Trucks
- Rigid Enforcement
- Sex Differences
- Silly Statistics
- Speed Limits
- Ticket Quotas
- Worldwide Trends

« Previous     Next »
« Go back?
Silly Statistics Models have limitations; stupidity does not
Fact LTSA & Police Myth
Statistics taken out of context are completely meaningless. You are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash if your vehicle is travelling at 140kmh than if it is travelling at 100 kmh!

This statistic is a real doozy!  Where, when and who?  There is no context at all. 

We all know places, times and conditions where driving at 140 kph (or 100 kph) is stark, raving lunacy.  Equally there are other places, times and conditions where it may not be at all dangerous.  A good driver knows the difference and always drives for the conditions.

The statement implies

  1. There has been a study covering all driving at all speeds under all conditions.
  2. All drivers are subject to the same risk profile so comparisons between them are valid.
  3. All conditions are subject to the same risk profile so comparisons between them are valid.

None of these implications are true.  The statement out of context is totally invalid and meaningless.

Unfortunately it is typical of the silly nonsense repeatedly propagated by LTSA and the police.

For an indepth refutation of the source of one of these claims, see our Kloeden Critique.

It is a fundamental and basic misuse of statistics to imply that general knowledge takes precedence over specific knowledge.  For example, statistics may be available which suggest that as a 35-year-old male you have an 0.000001% chance of contracting a particular disease that year.  But it may also be known that only certain gene carriers are susceptible and that you do not have the at-risk gene.  Therefore it is certain you have zero risk despite the general statistic.

This is the basic and fundamental flaw in most of the bureaucratic risk analyses.   Bureaucrats and politicians just love to assume for the purposes of making regulations that general population-wide statistics apply equally to everyone, but they don't.   Many crashes are no mystery - bad, irresponsible and foolish behaviour sometimes coupled with poor engineering are obvious causes.  People who do not behave in these ways and who are experienced in dealing with the specific engineering deficiencies they encounter are not at risk for these events.  The differing casualty profiles for different ages are simple proof.

Likewise, risks are not the same at different times, places and conditions.  We may not fully understand the variations, but we cannot pretend that they are insignificant.

The consequences of such pretentious and ignorant policy-making has been disastrous for road safety: Catastrophic failure of rigid enforcement