Monday, January 14, 2008

Fear-mongering in the Traffic War

Argentine highway safety is a serious problem, and one that concerns me the moment I step out my door of my apartment building. I try not to exaggerate, though, so it's hard to accept the sensationalist coverage, in this morning's Clarín, of a head-on crash that killed 13 people in Córdoba province.

According to a sidebar to the story, 81 Argentines have died so far this year in vehicle crashes. As deplorable as that may sound, it's possible to consider this good news: In 2007, more than 8000 people died on Argentine highways, an average of roughly 22 per day; in the 13 days so far this year, the average is only six-plus per day. Should this trend continue through the year, highway fatality rates would decline by about 70 percent, so let's give Argentine drivers credit for getting off to a positive start in 2008--especially when so many are en route to their vacations.

Still, the carnage on Argentine highways is real enough without Clarín's alarmism over a single accident that may have been caused by a blown tire. It's worth noting, though, that 33 of those 81 fatalities so far have happened in Córdoba province, a popular vacation destination for Argentines.

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