One of my best friend’s parents were just involved in a wreck with a bus, one of them is in the hospital with punctured lungs and blood clots in the brain: he’s stable and getting better but I am still shocked... which made me look up a few numbers

A Mexican highway called the Northern Arc (link) for your time

In the US over 37,000 people die in car accidents each year, the number in Mexico, a country with 40,000,000 cars, it is a little under 4,600 deaths per year... My question is... how?

We have forty million cars, which means that a little more than 0.012% of cars are involved in deadly wrecks here. The US has two hundred and sixty three million cars in the road, meaning that a little under 0.014% of cars are involved in deadly wrecks there. But what do these numbers mean? What can we do to make our roads safer?

Data bias:

In the case of Mexico it’s the national statistics institute reporting 4,600 deaths per year, significantly lower than in 1997 where 6,000 people died. However, this report could be underestimating road deaths as wrecks are sometimes not reported, or municipal police officers don’t file the correct reports, and it could be excluding deaths caused by medical complications from the crash.

In the case of the US’ numbers it’s an NGO looking for safer roads. Even if they stand to gain from this number in perhaps more coverage or more donations, it’s normally accepted that road deaths hover around 30,000 per year.

Additionally, nowhere in Mexico is the speed limit higher than 120km/h, where some highways in the US allow for up to 137km/h. But we have way worse enforcement of traffic laws, hence those common internet posts testing a car’s top speed in Mexico.


All the percentages are rough calculations. But it’s still horrifying because one thing is true: even with much tighter laws, better driver examination, tougher crash tests and more car inspections in the US, the United States and Mexico have very similar numbers, which begs the question, are current methods working?