Mar 05 2013

Georgia drivers die mostly because of yokels

A huge traffic sign adorns the highway near my home, announcing the number of fatalities on Georgia roads this year so far (it's about 150). Moving here from California, knowing this is a small state, that seems like a lot, and it is. Here is the data from 2008 for both states (rates per million people in parentheses)

California Georgia
Total population 38,049,462 9,544,750
Crashes 452,595 (11900) 306,367 (32100)
Injuries 170,496 (4480) 115,797 (12130)
Fatalities 3113 (82) 1508 (158)
Deaths per 100 million
miles driven
1.04 1.37

Basically, if you are in Georgia you are 2.7 times likelier to be in a crash and 1.9 times likelier to die than in California.

Going through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on fatal crashes does yield some interesting tidbits, though none reveal the reason for this disparity. 8% of fatal crashes in GA were due to trees, vs 4% for CA. 11% of fatal crashes in GA were due to ditches or embankments, whereas CA were likely to hit curbs (8%) before dying. Californians hit pedestrians a lot more (22% of incidents vs 13% for Georgia).

Anyway, most of the reason for the difference in rates is simple:


In 2008 the fatality rate in Georgia for rural areas was 1.82/100 million miles and only 0.97 in urban areas (for overall 1.37). 94.4% of Californians live in urban areas, but only 71.6% of Georgians do. Both states have broken down their fatalities by rural/urban areas (data from 2007):

California Georgia
Urban 2481 703
Rural 1493 (!) 805

We can calculate the rates by dividing by the populations of each region (rates are per million people):

California Georgia
Urban 69 102
Rural 700 (!) 297

These numbers are a tad rough, since the number of fatalities fluctuates more than a little bit from year to year. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that if you're in Atlanta, you're not in twice as much  danger as you are in California (only around 47% more). Part of that is that Georgia drivers drive drunk more often (3.1 alcohol related fatalities per 100k population vs 2.1 for California). Part of it, as far as I can tell, is that they kinda suck at driving.

But if you're driving around our state, you might want to stick to the city.

By the way, what the fuck with rural California drivers?!?! Maybe it's a glitch with how the state counts rural population vs rural crashes. But god damn. They actually manage to be twice as bad as Georgia rural drivers.