I have less of a story and more of a question. My girlfriend is from New Jersey and has a very, um, animated personality. While driving, she often gives people certain gestures, honks, flashes headlights, etc.
I always tell her that she needs to be careful and that she shouldn’t do things like that because there are crazy people out there who might try to run her off the road (or worse) in a fit of road rage. She tells me that I’m being ridiculous and that she has a better chance of getting struck by lightning.
My question is: does she have a better chance of getting struck by lightning? Am I worrying about something that has only a negligible statistical chance of occurring?
Looking forward to some insight!
Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 243. Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.
Hmmm…. Well, finding statistics about road rage is difficult, mostly because the definition of “road rage” is fuzzy. However, after looking at several different sources, I believe it’s safe to say that it seriously injures or kills around 1500 people in the U.S. per year, and that doesn’t include incidents in which only minor injuries or property damage are involved.
By contrast, the number of people who are injured by lightning in the U.S. each year is fewer than 300. On average, the number killed is 33.
Several websites echoed this sentiment written in About News:
“Statistics tell us that most all of us have been involved in an aggressive driving experience either as the victim or the aggressor at some point in our lives.”
Yet the lifetime chances of being struck by lightning at some point in one’s life are about 1 in 12,000. So I’d go with the author on this one.