One of the best ways to avoid a car accident

View of Tahiti from Moorea

I had the fortune of visiting Bora Bora last week, and I was reminded of one of the best ways to avoid a car accident: act like everyone is going to crash into you.

Staying safe in French Polynesia

Bora Bora is an island in French Polynesia, just on the other side of the equator from Hawaii. It’s part of France, so it’s a mix of European style with island life. Bora Bora is not a very big island, and the population is usually under 10,000 people. But the roads are narrow, somewhat crowded and don’t have many traffic markings painted on them. However, the number of car accidents, as far I have been able to determine, is very low. I felt pretty safe the whole time I was there.

Traffic jam in Bora Bora

Accidents vs fatalities

Tracking the number of accidents in any given country is difficult, since most governments mainly care about accidents that cause fatalities. And it’s even harder in French Polynesia because the statistics are buried in the data for France, which is one of the lowest in the world. In the United States, car accident fatalities vary wildly by state, from the lowest in Massachusetts to five times as high in Mississippi. But the United States is near the bottom end of all countries. Most of the African countries are in the red zone with a high number of fatalities. And most European countries are at the bottom of the list with around half as many fatalities as the United States per capita.

There are a lot of reasons for this disparity, and it’s not really possible to cover them all here. One of the main reasons seems to be that Americans just have a lot more cars per capita than most any other large country. Another reason surely has to do with the limited public transportation in the United States compared to Europe.

Defensive driving

Regardless of the reasons and the intricacies of the problem, we could all do well to drive with more caution. In fact, defensive driving is driving with the expectation that cars all around us could end up crashing into us. I’m not suggesting we do this to increase our anxiety, though. We could take a lesson from the people of Bora Bora who drove as relaxed as an islander can be, but always seemed to be aware of the potential danger around them.

Traffic jam in Bora Bora

Let us know in the comments below if you have seen traffic in foreign countries that seemed chaotic yet safe at the same time.

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