VIEWPOINT - Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

SoapboxI was just reading the account of the head on that happened on Shannon Lake Road. I certainly have sympathy for the people involved, but I noticed that one person received a charge of "Speeding Relative to Conditions."

No question it was rightfully deserved given the road conditions at the time, but this is exactly what that prof at UBC was discussing in his lecture as to how the spin doctors with both ICBC and the RCMP manipulate statistics that I detailed to you in a past blog.

They will now add this to their statistics and the accident will be labeled as being caused by speeding and they will not mention weather or road conditions, hence giving both ICBC and the RCMP ammunition for blaming speeding for causing far more accidents than it actually does.

Don't you think the parties responsible for statistics should be accountable for attributing the cause of accidents honestly instead of manipulating them the way they now do?


Lecture Contents

I would like to read an account of that lecture to find out who was saying what. Are there any references to it on the web?

I will invite you to review ICBC's published collision statistics yourself. On page 14 of the 2007 edition, for example, you will find contributing conditions that specifically report weather and road conditions. It is one thing for you to assert that this happens and another entirely to show examples of manipulation.

I have found the on scene press release for the collision that you refer to:

There is one inaccuracy in it, and that is the reference to restraining pets. The law that the constable is referring to is this:

Transporting animals

72 A person commits an offence if the person transports a living animal on the runningboard, fender, hood or other exterior part of a motor vehicle unless a suitable cage, carrier or guard rail is provided and is attached adequately to protect that animal from falling or being thrown from the vehicle.

The requirement for restraint only applies to animals being transported on the exterior of a vehicle. While it is a good idea to prevent fido from becoming a missile inside the vehicle during a collision, it is not yet mandated by law that they be restrained.

Informative Article

Just thought you might want to click on this to read an article. [Link is no longer available] I certainly found it quite informative. It has some very compelling stats on speeding, etc.

In regards to your question on the UBC prof’s lecture I can’t find it on line but he was well researched in his stats on accidents being attributed to speeding and the weather. His lecture dealt with how we as the general public are manipulated by spin doctors gerrymandering statisticts who are hired by Govt. or companies promoting whatever it is their trying to sell.

His account of tobacco companies manipulating stats on lung cancer was very telling. It just happened that the police and Govt. of the day were trying to sell photo radar to the public and he decided to debunk their use of stats in presenting his lecture.

I must say it was very convincing and left one quite upset at how we as the general public are played from time to time by both our own Govt and our own police force.


I'm not entirely certain that Ian is against speeding enforcement entirely, but is definitely against photo radar! He always argues intelligently and I do agree with many of his points. While you appeared to be speaking in general, he is speaking specifically. What you need to keep in mind when you read information like this, and information that I put here for that matter, is that we all look at the situation from a different angle. Where he sees one meaning, I may see another and reality may lie somewhere in between.

I challenge you to look at the data and make your own conclusions. You may find that you decide on yet a third interpretation.

Telling the Truth

I decided to accept your challenge and read the article I sent you by Ian Tootill a second time to see if I drew any different conclusions. He is very articulate and astute in his analysis of the issues in regards to speeding enforcement.

What I most appreciated was the stats on how the lobbyists and spin doctors manipulated the numbers to make their case. The fact that only 3 to 5 % of crashes are actually attributed to speeding over the limit, not the 40% that we are duped into believing is very telling.

I have tried to make the same assertions to you that he does, with I might add very little success, but he does it so much better than I, so I would refer  you back to my original question:


You Missed Something

I didn't ask you to re-read Ian's article, I asked that you review the crash data and see if your review of that matches his opinion, my opinion or causes you to form your own opinion that might differ from either one of us. Part of the problem is that we tend to accept at face value something that we agree with or have been influenced by without looking behind it to see if it is really something strongly rooted in fact. This is why I try to choose good reference links when I write articles here on the site and leave the articles open to public criticism.

You will find police submitted data on crash causation on ICBC's web site.

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