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Final notenotes: 1. It is quite likely that in other countries that have not seen large scale total wars fought on their soil, the claim is true as well. Most of the 20th century death toll is concentrated in specific countries, especially Russia, China, and Germany. Countries that remained neutral during major conflicts like Holland, Sweden, or Switzerland, are probable candidates.

  1. It is quite likely that in other countries that have not seen large scale total wars fought on their soil, the claim is true as well. Most of the 20th century death toll is concentrated in specific countries, especially Russia, China, and Germany. Countries that remained neutral during major conflicts like Holland, Sweden, or Switzerland, are probable candidates.

  2. Air pollution from vehicles is also worth considering as a possible factor. This MIT study suggests the annual deaths in the USA from air pollution exceed 50,000 in the US. If these are counted, then the total number of deaths due to automobiles in the USA is markedly higher, but still unlikely to exceed 8 million (emissions related deaths were probably lower in the past because there were fewer people and fewer cars, and cars have only been around for about 100 years in significant numbers). This factor is not likely to significantly change the answer for any country. It approximately doubles the rate at which cars kill people, but in countries with total wars fought on their soil, or with large scale ethnic cleansing or genocides that were part of wars, the death tolls from wars still dwarf the tolls from cars.

Final note: 1. It is quite likely that in other countries that have not seen large scale total wars fought on their soil, the claim is true as well. Most of the 20th century death toll is concentrated in specific countries, especially Russia, China, and Germany. Countries that remained neutral during major conflicts like Holland, Sweden, or Switzerland, are probable candidates.

Final notes:

  1. It is quite likely that in other countries that have not seen large scale total wars fought on their soil, the claim is true as well. Most of the 20th century death toll is concentrated in specific countries, especially Russia, China, and Germany. Countries that remained neutral during major conflicts like Holland, Sweden, or Switzerland, are probable candidates.

  2. Air pollution from vehicles is also worth considering as a possible factor. This MIT study suggests the annual deaths in the USA from air pollution exceed 50,000 in the US. If these are counted, then the total number of deaths due to automobiles in the USA is markedly higher, but still unlikely to exceed 8 million (emissions related deaths were probably lower in the past because there were fewer people and fewer cars, and cars have only been around for about 100 years in significant numbers). This factor is not likely to significantly change the answer for any country. It approximately doubles the rate at which cars kill people, but in countries with total wars fought on their soil, or with large scale ethnic cleansing or genocides that were part of wars, the death tolls from wars still dwarf the tolls from cars.

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DidI did some more research on this tonight, and was able to answer my own question, at least to some extent.

  1. For the world as a whole, this is a very unlikely claim.
  2. For the countryUnited States of America in particular, this likely true, at least for the deaths of Americans in wars since the country was founded. This is possibly the origin of the claim, at least in my region, which I`ve often seen made by Americans (i.e. More Americans have been killed by cars than by all wars combined becomes More People have been killed by cars than by all wars combined.) The claim is also likely to be true in many other individual countries.
  3. For this claim to become true for the world in general in the future, the bulk of the world's population would have to be at peace for a very long time, and average car safety would have to decline.

Did some more research on this tonight, and was able to answer my own question, at least to some extent.

  1. For the world as a whole, this is a very unlikely claim.
  2. For the country of America in particular, this likely true, at least for the deaths of Americans in wars since the country was founded. This is possibly the origin of the claim, at least in my region, which I`ve often seen made by Americans (i.e. More Americans have been killed by cars than by all wars combined becomes More People have been killed by cars than by all wars combined.) The claim is also likely to be true in many other individual countries.
  3. For this claim to become true for the world in general in the future, the bulk of the world's population would have to be at peace for a very long time, and average car safety would have to decline.

I did some more research on this tonight, and was able to answer my own question, at least to some extent.

  1. For the world as a whole, this is a very unlikely claim.
  2. For the United States of America in particular, this likely true, at least for the deaths of Americans in wars since the country was founded. This is possibly the origin of the claim, at least in my region, which I`ve often seen made by Americans (i.e. More Americans have been killed by cars than by all wars combined becomes More People have been killed by cars than by all wars combined.) The claim is also likely to be true in many other individual countries.
  3. For this claim to become true for the world in general in the future, the bulk of the world's population would have to be at peace for a very long time, and average car safety would have to decline.
5 replaced http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/ with https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/
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  1. ThisThis similar question has an answer which puts a lower bound on the number of humans killed in war in the 20th century at an estimate 200 million.

  2. A reference cited by this quite interesting WHO report (page 33), puts the cumulative total number of deaths by automobile at 25 million, conservatively, in 1997. Unfortunately I can't get access to the reference directly to see what methodology was used.

  3. A recent WHO report estimates the number of fatalities due to automobiles in 2013 at 1.2 million (worldwide).

  4. If we made a very generous estimate based on 2 and 3, doubling the conservative estimate of 25 million by 1997 to 50 million, and assume that 2 million a year were killed 1997-2014, rather than the fewer than 1.2 million that seems probable, we still get less than 90 million total deaths due to automobiles. This is less than the number of people killed in all wars, worldwide, in the 20th century alone, and in fact, is less than half the number required.

  1. This similar question has an answer which puts a lower bound on the number of humans killed in war in the 20th century at an estimate 200 million.

  2. A reference cited by this quite interesting WHO report (page 33), puts the cumulative total number of deaths by automobile at 25 million, conservatively, in 1997. Unfortunately I can't get access to the reference directly to see what methodology was used.

  3. A recent WHO report estimates the number of fatalities due to automobiles in 2013 at 1.2 million (worldwide).

  4. If we made a very generous estimate based on 2 and 3, doubling the conservative estimate of 25 million by 1997 to 50 million, and assume that 2 million a year were killed 1997-2014, rather than the fewer than 1.2 million that seems probable, we still get less than 90 million total deaths due to automobiles. This is less than the number of people killed in all wars, worldwide, in the 20th century alone, and in fact, is less than half the number required.

  1. This similar question has an answer which puts a lower bound on the number of humans killed in war in the 20th century at an estimate 200 million.

  2. A reference cited by this quite interesting WHO report (page 33), puts the cumulative total number of deaths by automobile at 25 million, conservatively, in 1997. Unfortunately I can't get access to the reference directly to see what methodology was used.

  3. A recent WHO report estimates the number of fatalities due to automobiles in 2013 at 1.2 million (worldwide).

  4. If we made a very generous estimate based on 2 and 3, doubling the conservative estimate of 25 million by 1997 to 50 million, and assume that 2 million a year were killed 1997-2014, rather than the fewer than 1.2 million that seems probable, we still get less than 90 million total deaths due to automobiles. This is less than the number of people killed in all wars, worldwide, in the 20th century alone, and in fact, is less than half the number required.

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