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Monday, 3 August 2015

Police chases kill more people each year than floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning — combined

Washington Post

 This week Zachary Crockett of the Priceonomics blog highlighted some eye-popping statistics on high-speed police pursuits. Crockett points to a 2007 study ... which found that these [chases] take about 323 lives each year. To put it in perspective, that's more than the number of people killed by floods, tornadoes, lightning and hurricanes - combined. 

These numbers ... only count deaths directly related to vehicle accidents involved in these chases. If a person is chased down by cops and eventually shot, for instance, that death wouldn't show up here. But the most shocking thing is that innocent bystanders account for 27 percent of all police chase deaths, or 87 deaths per year.

This underscores a key fact that may seem obvious: high speed police chases are incredibly dangerous not just to the people involved in them, but to everyone who crosses their path. Given the high risk, you might assume that cops only give chase to the most violent criminals. But you'd be wrong. Ninety one percent of high-speed chases are initiated in response to a non-violent crime, according to a fascinating report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Institute of Justice. 42 percent involved a simple traffic infraction. Another 18 percent involved a stolen vehicle. 15 percent involved a suspected drunk driver. Is it worth risking life and limb ... to catch somebody who ran a red light? Or who failed to signal a turn? 

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