Driven to Destruction

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WASHINGTON: Here's some depressing news for the next generation: by the time they're grown, they will be three times more likely to be killed on the road. "Traffic-related injuries and deaths are growing worldwide at an alarming rate," Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater warned Tuesday. A new report from statisticians in Sweden expects traffic-related crashes to become the world's third most common cause of death by 2020 nipping at the heels of heart failure and "major depression" as the top ways to go.

How to avoid a mangled car wreck two decades hence? According to the number-crunchers, it's best to be elderly, educated and female. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of traffic-related injuries and deaths, because it has a high population of young men the riskiest drivers and low education standards. Smart women drivers in Western countries are the safest.

Even if you're lucky enough to slot in these categories, however, you still have violence, suicide, tobacco and HIV to contend with. All are expected to shoot up the cause-of-death charts in the next century. Best not to tell your life insurance company just yet.