Document:Terrorism, Transit and Public Safety - Evaluating the Risks
Did you know that traffic accidents claim orders or magnitude more lives than terrorist attacks?
- The 7-7 bombings resulted in about six days of normal traffic fatalities.
- The Madrid train bombings resulted in about 12-13 days of normal traffic deaths in Spain.
- During the 25 worst years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, twice as many people died there in road accidents as were killed by terrorists.
- In Israel, the annual road traffic death toll has been two or three times higher than civilian deaths by Palestinian terrorists during the violent years of 2000 through 2003.
- The 9-11 attacks killed about the same as a month of U.S. traffic accidents.
- According to official reports, terrorists killed 25 Americans worldwide in 2002, 23 in 2003, and none in 2004, while about 42,000 died in traffic accidents each of these years.
- In 29 OECD countries for which suitable data were available, road accidents killed around 390 times more people than international terrorism.
This paper evaluates the overall safety of public transit, taking into account all risks, including recent terrorist attacks. It indicates that transit is an extremely safe mode, with total per passenger-mile fatality rates approximately one-tenth that of automobile travel. It is important for individuals and public officials to avoid overreacting to terrorist threats in ways that increase overall danger. Transit terrorism would cause more total casualties and harm to society if individuals respond to attacks by shifting from public transit to less safe modes, or if decision makers respond by reducing support for public transit...