On Television: Western North Dakota Traffic Fatalities And BCBS CEO Gets Canned


Above is the video from my weekly “Say Anything Segment” with Chris Berg on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program. We tried something new this time. Normally I broadcast from him via Skype, but the audio isn’t great and sometimes the video locks up. So last night I connected from the KMOT studio here in Minot. Obviously, things looked and sounded better, but there was also a several second delay in the audio.

Which wasn’t too bad until Chris and I got into it a little bit about western North Dakota traffic fatalities at the end.

Our discussion focused on the firing of BCBSND CEO Paul von Ebers yesterday, and this Associated Press article which claims that traffic fatalities in North Dakota’s oil patch have increased 350 percent.

Which is extremely misleading. The AP is calculating traffic fatalities per capita, which is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, population figures in western North Dakota aren’t very accurate right now thanks to explosive growth (US Census Bureau Director John Thompson is in the state today to discuss that issue among others). For another, population often has very little to do with actual traffic on the roads.

For instance, according to NDDOT data I’ve already accumulated, in 2012 Williams County (Williston) had more than half the traffic as Cass County (Fargo), despite having nowhere near half the population.

I’m working on getting historical data and I’ll have a more in-depth post, but suffice it to say that we’re not seeing the sort of traffic fatality holocaust in western ND some would have us believe.