ONE grisly economic indicator that appears on no official charts is again rising: car-accident deaths. Says Don Mela, the U.S. Department of Transportation's chief mathematical analyst: "If you make a graph plotting auto-accident deaths against the index of industrial production, you will find dips in production coinciding with dips in the rate of auto deaths." Thus, in the recession year of 1970, auto deaths dropped to 4.9 per 100 million miles traveled, from 5.3 in boom-end 1969. The death rate dropped a bit further last year, to an estimated 4.7, despite the economy's creeping recovery. But the fatality curve, behaving like...

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