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Old 07-03-2008, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,304,279 times
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Its a recurring theme here on city-data (and in real life) that urban, central cities are dangerous due to risk of crime victimization (murder). On the other hand, no one really thinks about the risk of auto fatality in exurbia. I know this is because people fear dying by homicide more than by auto accident, but this isn't really rational since either way you're equally dead.

For a long time I've looked for a study which quantifies the risk of death due to homicide versus auto accident in central cities versus burbs. I've finally found it.

Here's the article:
Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the Built Environment

Here's a short summary of the article:
University of Virginia News Story

Basically, when you consider stranger-on-stranger homicide only (excluding homicides where the victim and assailant know each other), the risk of death in the burbs is usually significantly higher than in the city, due to the higher automobile fatality rate in the burbs.

Discuss.
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:05 PM
 
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ooo can't wait to see how this thread pans out.

good find.
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:07 PM
 
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The problem, unfortunately, in in perception rather than reality. People for some reason think that they have more control over driving. That their caution can avoid an crash, right? They feel that their good driving skills can compensate for everyone else's bad ones. Not only is this a fallacy, but one (arguably, of course) has much more control over their chances of being murdered by controlling when they go places, where they go and how they go about going to any certain destination. Mostly, it is common sense things that can help most. Don't walk down a city street with an iPod in your ears. The main point, though, is how hysterical we can be as a society. Irrational fear of crime is the same thing as checking Halloween treats. It is often feared but seldom a reality.
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,304,279 times
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BTW, to clarify, the study examines risks undertaken during a commute from home to work. Thus, it looks at traffic accident risk and stranger-on-stranger homicide risk (walking down the street and robbed and shot, etc). It therefore excludes homicide due to arguing with your spouse/relative or homicide due to turf war with rival gang members.

Obviously, if you are a gang member, you may have a higher homicide risk than the general populace, and this study may not apply to you.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:13 PM
 
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Pretty soon we'll all be riding motor scooters and mopeds. That should skew things just a wee bit.
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
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To be fair, a lot of the discrepancy can probably be attributed to skewed media coverage. If, for example, a tourist from Iowa came to Chicago to see the White Sox and after the game was killed by a stray bullet fired by a gangbanger, the newspapers and evening news would run with the story for days. On the other hand, if ten Iowans never made it to the ballpark because they were hit by a drunk driver or a semi-truck on the way to Chicago, it'd barely rate a small blurb in the back of the newspaper.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:59 PM
 
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I think it's important to acknowledge that car accidents often happen in urban areas too.

I've almost been hit by cars several times as a pedestrian when walking around in urban areas.
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Old 07-05-2008, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,304,279 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radraja View Post
I think it's important to acknowledge that car accidents often happen in urban areas too.

I've almost been hit by cars several times as a pedestrian when walking around in urban areas.
No doubt car accidents occur in urban areas. Stranger-on-stranger homicides occur in rural/exurban areas too. The point of the journal article is that (in general) the combined risk of death by these two modes is higher in less urban areas.
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Old 07-05-2008, 01:54 PM
 
Location: San Francisco/East Bay and Los Angeles, formerly DC and Boston
2,147 posts, read 3,440,696 times
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while this is a well-researched study, I'm surprised local news hasn't created a "can the suburbs kill you?" story line out of this

maybe they fear it could hurt their strategy of showing sirens and police tape at least 3 times per newscast
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,304,279 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheseGoTo11 View Post
while this is a well-researched study, I'm surprised local news hasn't created a "can the suburbs kill you?" story line out of this

maybe they fear it could hurt their strategy of showing sirens and police tape at least 3 times per newscast
I think people are too invested in the belief that the suburbs, far from the city, are the safest place to be. It fits too well with the whole American mythology about seeking elbow room in the pristine wilderness/countryside. Also, Americans are in love with their cars, and probably find it hard to believe that cars are more dangerous than guns. I'm actually a bit surprised that no one has posted to disputed the findings yet.
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