Wednesday 23 March 2016

The assessment of risk

34 people were murdered in Belgium yesterday. That's very bad. Of course it is. But is there anything worse?

In 2013 (the latest year I could get figures) 724 people were killed by road accidents. Belgium is trying to reduce road fatalities; the target is 420 in 2020.Good idea, but not enough.

This isn't comparable - the 34 were murdered, the 724 were unfortunate victims of an accident.

But dead is dead. People's lives are over. Families are bereaved.

Belgium has the second worst per-capita road fatality rate in Western Europe (after Portugal).

So what is to be done? Here's my prediction.

Huge amounts will be spent on security theater at airports and railway stations, but how will this stop a terrorist with a bomb in a suitcase from entering the terminal and blowing it up in the middle of a crowd?

I was driving round the M25 yesterday, and I passed two cars that were so close together, that the only rational possibility was that one was towing the other. Except they weren't. Go on any motorway, and you'll see frequent examples of tail gating, undertaking, lane swerving and other risk-laden activities that mostly don't lead to an accident, but occasionally do. People are very bad at asessing risk, even when their own lives are directly at hazard.

Nothing will be spent on hastening the time when autonomous cars are compulsory. That's going to be the most significant reducer of premature deaths in this century, unless someone comes up with a cure for stupidity.


  1. Drsolly Blog - Risk assessment : Very scary!!

  2. Hmm. The whole point of this posting was to say that the terrorism threat is minor, compared to the risk of getting killed by accident by a motor car, and that the huge security theater expenditure that I think will soon be spent in moving the threat from airports to somewhere else, might be better spent in easing the transition to driverless cars.