Burmese bus. Rangoon, early December. More heaped mass transiting en plein air, the object of so much curiosity and longing for those of us from cities like mine, where the taxicabs now hector you automatically about buckling up in the backseat as you wait in standstill traffic on Fifth Avenue.
So what is the price of this crowded, sweaty liberation that charms every Western tourist who ever sat and sagged a tuk-tuk? The Asian Development Bank and ASEAN came up with some Myanmar data:
Overall, traffic accidents accounted for over $122 million in societal costs in 2003, or 3% of Myanmar’s GDP (twice the relative cost, for example, as in Ghana).
The dry genius of the ADB-ASEAN cost estimate is that it includes estimates for grief and human suffering in the aftermath of an accident. That’s $1,800 in societal grief for every death, $842 for a serious injury accident, $8.28 for a slight injury accident.
But at the same time as we point to all the specifics of Myanmar’s roads and culture, look at the final table here. The point is clear: men, particularly young men, drive like assholes, all over the world. —NT
[Photo credit: Nathan Thornburgh / Roads and Kingdoms]