I was cooking breakfast and half listening to the morning news on TV when a story caught my ear: There was a new report out that ranked traffic safety in each state.
Wondering how Indiana had placed, I paid attention, and what do you know: we're about in the middle of the pack.
But the rating isn't for the death rate, or the accident rate -- it's for the number and kind of driving safety laws each state has!
Show of hands, class -- who can explain why this metric is risible? All of you? Very good!
But just in case, let's go over it: counting "safety" by looking at the rules intended to promote safe behaviors tells us nothing about how well those rules work. It tells us nothing about how faithfully those rules are obeyed. It doesn't even tell us how well those rules are enforced!
It's still an interesting report. You can read it here.
For data at how safe it is to drive in the various states, you can look here, and get the fatality rate per 100k population and per hundred million miles traveled. At a glance, Indiana's about in the middle there, too.
What I'm not finding in a quick search is any kind of correlation study, not even an informal comparison of death or accident rates versus laws aimed to make drivers safer. You'd think that would be a key piece of information for planning, and yet-- Nothing.
More laws does not necessarily mean better laws; if you were thinking that logical fallacy only showed up in the hotly-contested debate about gun laws, guess again. Driving safety is a far less divisive issue, with statistics that are much easier to find, and yet here we are.
Quantity is a wonderfully useful metric for ball-bearings or new home construction and all manner of mass-produced goods. Intent, too, is a fine metric: you certainly ought to know what you're setting out to accomplish. For laws, however, it might be useful to look more closely at quality and results, preferably in as impartial a manner as possible.
Just a suggestion.
6 months ago