Is there a greater chance of dying by being hit by a bus than by COVID-19?

CLAIM: There is a greater chance of dying in a bus collision than by COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE. The probability of a randomly selected resident of Great Britain dying from January to October 2020, with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate, was over 3,000 times higher than the average probability of dying as a pedestrian in an accident involving a bus or a coach in the same period.

A much-shared Facebook post included the claim: “You’ve got more chance of dying from being hit by a bus than you are of dying from ‘covid-19.”

We checked the accuracy of this claim by looking at the probabilities of a randomly selected resident of Great Britain dying as a pedestrian as a result of an accident involving a single bus or a coach, as well as by COVID-19. using the statistic of COVID-19 being mentioned on the death certificate. You can read our explainer article that compares the different COVID-19 death statistics for further information.

Statistics for death caused by a bus or a coach are not available for Northern Ireland, so we have standardised on Great Britain figures throughout this article. For the population estimate of Great Britain, we used the published figure of 64.9m

According to the Department for Transport, from 2013 to 2019 an average of 24 pedestrians per year were killed in accidents involving buses or coaches in Great Britain (see table RAS10012). Therefore, the annual probability of a randomly selected resident of Great Britain dying as a pedestrian in an accident involving a bus or a coach is 0.000037% (24/64,900,000), or approximately 1 in 2.7m. Since the claim is comparing the period January to October, we will make comparisons using a ten month figure for bus and coach pedestrian deaths (19.92), with the probability calculated as 0.000031%, or approximately 1 in 3.2m.

From the start of 2020 until 30 October in England and Wales, and 26 October in Scotland, 60,707 deaths were registered in Great Britain where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate (56,057 in England and Wales, and 4,650 in Scotland; see table Covid-19 – Weekly registrations and Table 1). Therefore, the probability of a randomly selected resident of Great Britain dying with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate from January to October 2020 was 0.094% (60,706/64,900,000), or approximately 1 in 1,069.

Put another way, the probability that a randomly selected Great Britain resident died from January to October 2020 with COVID-19 mentioned on their death certificate was therefore 3,035 times more likely than a randomly selected individual dying as a pedestrian in an accident involving a bus or a coach in any ten months from 2013 to 2019 (60,707 COVID-19 registered deaths/19.92 deaths by bus collision).

Data isn’t available to break down bus accident deaths by age to compare that with the known increasing risk of dying by COVID-19 as age increases.


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