You try to avoid risks. You don’t go skydiving or mountain climbing in your free time. You didn’t start a career as a police officer or a firefighter. When your friends bought motorcycles, you bought an SUV with a high crash safety rating. You try never to board an airplane unless there is no other choice.
However, do you know that you’re still exposing yourself to a good deal of risk almost every single day? Many people do not realize just how dangerous it is to drive a car. In 2017, more than 40,000 people died in car accidents in the United States. A few hundred more died in accidents in 2016.
That’s far, far more than die in U.S. plane crashes, mountaineering accidents, or while working as firefighters and police officers. And yet, most people just take on that risk because all of these little accidents add up over time, so they don’t really grasp how risky it is.
“People don’t generally think of driving as a risky task,” said one expert. “They think that crashes happen to other people, not themselves. There is a researcher who calls it the illusory zone of immunity — when we do things day after day that are routine, we don’t think of them as being particularly dangerous. But of course the statistics show that getting behind the wheel of a car is probably the riskiest thing any of us do on any given day.”
He’s not wrong. You don’t get in the car for a run to the grocery store and think that your odds of dying are frightening, but the statistics paint a very different picture. If you do get seriously injured or if you lose a loved one in an accident, you need to know what legal options you have.