The costs of the spread of the coronavirus has recently been compared to the yearly death toll from car accidents that we see in the U.S. Unfortunately, the comparison overlooks the fact that nearly everyone travels in a car – even non-drivers – while only a tiny percentage point of people in the U.S. have gotten COVID-19.
Why Comparing Coronavirus to Car Crashes Makes COVID-19 Look Tame
To date, there are nearly 60,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., alone. 819 others have died from the infection. Due to the lack of testing, there are likely tens of thousands of other COVID-19 infections that have not been confirmed, though the death toll is not likely to change, much.
That pales in comparison to the number of people who die every year in car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 36,560 people were killed in car accidents in 2018. That was down from the 37,473 who died, the year before. Even if 819 people die from the coronavirus every single month, car accidents would kill more than 3 times as many people as COVID-19 would.
This is why people who want life to return to normal are comparing the pandemic to car accidents. The implication is that we deal with car accidents, all the time, and that danger is much more severe than the spread of the coronavirus.
But Very Few People Have Been Infected with the Coronavirus, So Far
The death tolls only tell a very small part of the story, though.
Car accidents have been killing around 11 people per 100,000 every year for the last decade, leading to around 35,000 fatalities per year. These death rates have fallen steadily since the 1960s and 70s, when it was closer to 25 people per 100,000. However, the rates rarely change by more than a few percentage points every year.
Basically everyone travels in a car, though, and is exposed to the risks of a fatal car crash.
Not everyone has gotten the coronavirus, yet.
Imagine if they did.
Experts are estimating that the coronavirus kills between 0.5% and 1% of the people that it infects. Even if the virus only kills 0.5% of the people it infects, that would be 500 people per 100,000 – nearly 50 times the number of people who die in car accidents every year.
The better way to compare fatalities from car accidents to those from the coronavirus would be to take all of the people who would have died from car accidents in the next 50 years, and for them all to die, this year.
Car Accident Lawyer at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
That is not to say that car accidents are trivial. People get hurt or killed in them every day in Missouri, and need help recovering compensation for their losses. However, comparing the novel threats posed by the coronavirus to the daily threats of a car accident is misleading.