Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Celebu-Economist: Drunk Driving Safer Than “Drunk Walking”

8:16 AM PST on January 11, 2012

(Local note: our friend Josef Bray-Ali published his own rebuttal to the Freakonomics article at Flying Pigeon L.A.)

Did you know it's safer to drive in the United States than to walk?

false

Yep. We've built a transportation system that so privileges motorists, is so blind to the needs of those who try to get around any other way, that pedestrians make up 11 percent of trips, but 12 percent of fatalities (traffic engineers, take a bow).

Enter Steven Levitt of Freakonomics. In a recent radio program, the provocateur economist presented his finding that "walking drunk" is eight times more dangerous than driving drunk. Which led him to conclude: "Truly, if you're faced exactly with two choices, walking drunk or driving drunk, you absolutely should drive drunk."

Levitt's statement was obviously intended to shock. Hence the "don't drink and drive" disclaimer from co-author Stephen Dubner. More shocking than the cavalier sensationalism of Freakonomics, though, are the everyday perils faced by pedestrians, regardless of alcohol intake. Katie at Network blog Where the Sidewalk Starts explains:

We know that in terms of deaths per trip, pedestrians are over-represented when compared to drivers or vehicle passengers. However, even though our Freakonomics friends threw out some assumptions about total miles walked in the US, we don't have great data on overall exposure to walking dangers (e.g. how do you count all those crashes that happen in parking lots?). Thus, contrary to what Levitt and company suggest, it's hard to actually know how dangerous walking is on a per-mile basis.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

SGV Connect 121: El Monte and South El Monte, with ActiveSGV and Libros Monte

Podcast features ActiveSGV's David Diaz on various multimodal/complete streets projects - and Pedro Gonzales on Libros Monte and Mt. SAC's El Centro: Latinx Student Program

February 20, 2024

This Week In Livable Streets

CicLAvia, Metro lower 710 Freeway widening plan, C Line construction, Alternative Traffic Enforcement at Transportation Committee, street racing, and more

February 20, 2024

Two Thoughts on Measure HLA and How Hard Some City Leaders Are Fighting Against Safer Streets

Ballooning HLA cost estimates are hard to take seriously - for example, the CAO forecasts that unprotected bike lanes will cost $1.76 million dollars per mile

February 17, 2024
See all posts