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#1 2011-02-07 14:36:27

From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,316

Marathon runners less likely to die than driving the same distance?

We've all heard about marathon runners who drop dead during a race, and even though we know that's the exception and not the rule, we still probably think that running a marathon is more dangerous than not running one.

Challenging this idea, one study says that you're actually twice as likely to die from driving the same route on a normal day:

However, I'm a little skeptical.  The study said that there were 26 deaths among 3,292,268 runners for 26.2-mile marathons.  That would be 1 death every (3,292,268 x 26.2) / 26 = 3.3 million miles.

For driving, there are about 21,491 car occupant deaths per 1,439,628 million passenger vehicle miles traveled in an average year in the U.S. (source)  That's 1 death every (1,439,628,000,000 / 21,491 = 67.0 million miles.  That makes driving look safer, by quite a lot.


#2 2011-02-07 17:21:47

Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 582

Re: Marathon runners less likely to die than driving the same distance?

I think the study was trying to claim that the road closures caused by the marathons saved more lives than the marathon cost -- people drive less, so people crash less, but they run more, so they die while running more, but overall, the study suggests that the lives saved in car crashes is higher than the lives lost in the run.

Driving is remarkably safe, considering all the factors that try to make it dangerous.  The only reason it's such a major killer is that we do a whole lot of it -- I think the average American spends around 30 minutes in a car or other motor vehicle per day -- that's 2% of their lives.  With 40,000 killed every year by car collisions, and an average life expectancy of about 75 years, and 300 million Americans, that works out to driving only being about half as dangerous as living.  (Yes, this is somewhat bogus, but the idea is there -- on average, 1% of people will die from a car collisions, but we spend 2% of our lives in cars.)


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