Shark attack worries? Driving to the beach is more deadly

COLLEGE STATION, June 29, 2005 - Which is more likely to happen - you being in a car wreck or being bitten by a shark?

Those who answered that cars are greater killers win a free trip to the beach. It's really no contest, says a Texas A&M University professor. Your chances of being in a wreck are far greater than being a shark's lunch, says John McEachran, a professor of wildlife and fishery sciences who has studied sharks for years.

Worldwide, about one million people a year are killed in auto accidents, including more than 42,000 a year in the United States.

McEachran goes on to note that far more people die each year - about 90 worldwide - from an allergic reaction to eating peanuts.

Despite several attacks in Florida recently - one that killed a 14-year-old girl - shark attacks remain very rare when you put it all into perspective, McEachran believes.

"There are millions of people in the water at any given moment of the day," he notes.

"When you consider all of the people in the water at the same time, the number of shark attacks is very, very remote. Your chances of winning the lottery are greater than being attacked by a shark.

"But when a shark attack does occur, it makes big headlines. The drive you will make to the beach is far more dangerous, but an auto accident that kills several people will not make big headlines across the U.S. But a shark attack on one person will."

According to the International Shark Attack File, only seven fatalities occurred worldwide due to shark attack in 2004, there were only four in 2003, and only three in 2002.

Florida, with its large coastline and warm waters, leads all states with an average of about 30 shark attacks per year, followed by California (6), Texas (4), Hawaii (3), North Carolina (2) and Alabama, South Carolina and Oregon each reporting one.

McEachran says shark attacks are far less frequent causes of injury than driving

Contact: Keith Randall
Texas A&M University

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