1. Freakonomics characterizes drunk driving as an example of “the human tendency to worry about rare problems that are unlikely to happen.”
2. The CDC reports, “Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009.”
No offense to the tenured faculty at the University of Chicago, but I’m going with the CDC on this one.
P.S. The Freakonomics blog deserves to be dinged another time, not just for claiming, based on implausible assumptions and making the all-else-equal fallacy that “drunk walking is 8 times more likely to result in your death than drunk driving” but for presenting this weak inference as a fact rather than as a speculation.
When doing “Freakonomics,” you can be counterintuitive, or you can be sensible, but it’s hard to be both. I mean, sure, sometimes you can be. But there’s a tradeoff, and in this case, they’re choosing to push the envelope on counterintuitiveness.