Shark Stats Maths says walking to the beach more dangerous than sharks

So you survived summer, how likely was it that you'd be eaten by a shark?

On average, one person is killed by a shark in Australia per year. Compared to falling out of bed (43 deaths per year) and having a bath (11 deaths per year). How about walking from your car to the beach?

University of Queensland mathematician, Dr Matthew Holden, has done some calculations to further ease the minds of beach goers, finding the walk from your parked car to the beach is probably more dangerous.

"During summer time here in Australia, I find myself at the beach quite a lot, so naturally I'm thinking about dying in the jaws of a shark," said Dr Mathew Holden.
"My biologist colleagues often tell me the risk of a shark attack is so inconsequentially low that any rational person would ignore the risk, compared to say driving.
"But I wanted to know statistically, what else was actually more dangerous."

Dr Holden, who is based at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (ARC CEED), did the maths based on these statistics;

  • There are roughly 42 billion walking trips in the USA per year*.
  • On average those trips tend to be roughly about one mile*.
  • There are 5,376 pedestrian fatalities per year (compared to about 38,000 auto-accident fatalities in general, which likely includes the pedestrian figure).
  • These figures lead to about 0.000000128 deaths per mile walked.
  • This means that walking 0.08 miles has roughly the same fatality risk as one beach visit due to a shark attack.
"Essentially, if you have to walk more than about 65m each way, it is more likely you'll die doing that than being eaten by a shark in the ocean," he said.
"So in many cases, where you parked your car is probably further than that, and therefore a bigger risk.
"Keep in mind there are many other things to take into account, like parking spots might be in a dedicated car park, which would be safer."
Dr Matthew Holden (staying just above shark territory in Colombian waters).

Read more on Matt's Mathemagical Conservation blog or follow him on Twitter @MattHHolden

Media: ARC CEED Communications, ceed.comms@uq.edu.au, +61 7 336 52454


Created with images by valdeck - "shark sea ocean submarine dangerous animals teeth" • Annie Spratt - "Drone beach photo" • Elias Levy - "Great White Shark"

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