Over the years, we've looked at the correlation between corruption and personal security, air safety, environmental degradation, risks of war, debt problems, and general personal misery. Now let's look at corruption and road safety.
The most dangerous countries (measured by road fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles) finishing with the worst are: Central African Republic, Sudan, Benin, Burundi, Guinea, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Sierra Leone.
Their average rank on the Corruption Perceptions Index is 129 (out of 168 countries).
Individually they rank this way:
Central African Republic 145
Democratic Republic of the Congo 147
São Tomé and Príncipe 66
Sierra Leone 119
The safest countries to drive in? Again measured by fatalities per 100,000 vehicles on the road are: Malta, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, United Kingdom, Finland, and Germany.
On the CPI their average rank is 12.
Individually they rank:
United Kingdom 10
What's behind the correlation between corruption and road safety? In compliant countries, road surfaces are in better shape, lane and hazard markings are clear, traffic lights work, and people tend to respect the rules and obey the police.
In corrupt countries traffic is more chaotic: roads (and vehicles) are generally in worse shape, highways are dark, signage is missing or confusing, intersections are wild. There's also less respect for the rule of law. Drivers are more likely to make up their own rules and speed limits, putting everyone else in danger.
Most travelers have seen the danger on the road in corrupt countries. They may remember a terrifying taxi ride from the airport to their hotel, for example. They're glad to have survived, and the experience becomes cocktail-party chatter.
For people who live in those countries, there's no escape from the graft and the roadway danger.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.