Statistics and lies

92% of statistics are wrong... if you believe them at face value. Its bad enough that people love quoting statistics with no justification (there is none for the 92% - I made it up) but it really bugs me when the statistics state the obvious but mislead.

A recent article in our Courier Mail restated the oft quoted "Your more likely to have a car accident close to home" and got me onto my soap box...

Lets think about this claim. Its self evidently true (for reasons I'll explain) and a "Progressive Insurance study" which I've not been able to find the original for is usually quoted as the justification.

Lets apply some common sense...

  • Assume road accidents are a random event. That is they are equally likely to occur at any time while you are driving in your car. This is obviously not true but its a good starting point. Proving it untrue will help prove the times and places where accidents are really likely to happen
  • Assume the average car journey is around 16 kilometers

OK, now without getting into any nasty hard statistics think about those journeys and how much of the time the average car spends one kilometer from home, two kilometers from home... Every trip involves driving that first kilometer twice, most trips drive the second kilometer away twice, rather fewer hit the third kilometer and so on. Common sense tells us that our cars spend most of their time on the road less than a kilometer from home because pretty much every trip we take drives over that kilometer.

Why is this important?

If we take "Most accidents occur close to home" as meaning "we need to be more careful particularly near home" we would be making a mistake. Most accidents occur close to home because that is where the car spends most of its time. I'm pretty sure that being more careful will help avoid accidents whereever you take care and I'm pretty sure without doing any research that being more careful near junctions, schools and on bends will help you a lot more than being more careful in that last mile near home.


Sandra 10 years, 7 months ago

Lets stop living in fear
So true. All the news seems to be working hard to make life seem scarier than it really is. Sharks will eat us if we swim. We'll die if we drink coke. We'll be mugged if we go out at night. Our children will be kidnapped or molested if they talk to a stranger.
Its daft. Lets enjoy life and not let the one in a million chance of something really bad happening spoil our opportunity for 999,999 days of happiness.

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Whippy 10 years, 7 months ago

Good point
I hear you Sandra. It frustrates me too especially as we only live for 30,000 or so days if we're lucky!

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