Fresh Takes

COVID-19 and Car Accidents

Several days ago, The Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled “The Covid Age Penalty: New patient data offers a guide to opening while protecting seniors.” According to the article, and based on data from a recent study by Stanford professor John Ioannidis, for those under 65 years of age, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is not much higher than the risk of dying in a car accident.

Of course, for the younger set, the risks are even lower. Since March 8, 2020, over 8,100 Canadians have died due to COVID-19. Through to June 8, only 22 of these were under the age of 40.

In 2018, the latest year for which data is available, there were a total of 631 motor vehicle fatalities for 15-34-year-olds in Canada. These fatalities were over the course of a whole year, so for a comparable three-month period, we can estimate that about 160 Canadians aged 15‑34 die in car accidents—over seven times as many.

There are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident, none of which involve forbidding Canadians from driving. In contrast, we continue to accept the suppression of civil liberties in the name of protection from COVID-19. Maybe it’s time to shift our attention from exaggerated and sensationalized information to the reality that for most young, healthy Canadians, car rides are riskier than COVID-19. Yet we consider and will continue to consider, and rightfully so, that riding in cars is an activity that represents an acceptable level of risk.

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