On the wrong road with stats
Regarding “Reaction to cars’ safety records way over the top,” (Michael Fumento, Opinion, March 12): In an attempt to allay the concerns of Toyota owners in the aftermath of a number of “sudden unexplained acceleration” accidents — several resulting in fatalities — Fumento cites quite a few statistics and makes some interesting comparisons.
For example, he compares the 52 deaths during recent months that have been “linked to” sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles to the 420,000 Americans the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says died in motor vehicle accidents over the last decade.
According to Fumento, we should take comfort in the fact that “although Toyota had almost 17 percent of total U.S. car sales in 2008, it accounted for merely 8 percent of total claims for deaths and injuries in the first quarter of that year.”
Soon we will be reminded that more people are killed by lightning each year in the United States than those who have been killed in Toyota sudden-acceleration accidents. Perhaps we should be very thankful for this statistic, too.
While I am sure these statistics are perfectly correct, I find their use to minimize or to “put into perspective” human tragedy or suffering somewhat disingenuous.
It reminds me too much of attempts by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh a few years ago to put into perspective our casualties in Iraq by comparing our troop losses in Iraq and Afghanistan to the number of highway deaths in our country and to Philadelphia’s murder rate.
Yes, statistics are useful, but they will never even begin to console those whose loved ones have died either in combat or as a result of a vehicle accident.
As the owner of two Toyotas, I have real concerns about the safety of my loved ones who ride with me, as do millions of Toyota owners. Real people have died, and no amount of convenient statistics will diminish the pain or allay the concerns. This is not “hysteria.”
As Fumento says, Toyota has an “exceptional problem.” Let’s focus on addressing and correcting the problem and not on self-serving comparisons and statistics.
Maj. Dorian de Wind (retired)Austin, Texas