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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Accident → Plane Crash Statistics

This is a very misunderstood subject. Most people think that flying is much safer than travelling in a car. This is a myth perpetuated by airline publicists making creative use of statistics.

Here is the reality: in fact, you’re about 12 times more likely to die in the air than in a car ride. Let us look at the facts:

1. When the airline industry gives figures about its safety record, it quotes statistics showing that there are about 0.03 fatalities per 100 million kilometres flown, compared with 0.10 fatalities per 100 million kilometres for rail travel and 0.175 per million kilometres for cars. In other words, they are saying that air travel is about 3 times safer than rail travel and 5 times safer than car travel per 100 million kilometres of distance travelled.
2. But these statistics are highly skewed. Typically, planes travel huge distances but 70% of aircraft accidents take place on take-off and landing, manoeuvres which represent only 4% of journey time and are therefore relatively much more dangerous.
3. A much more realistic figure is the rate of fatalities per number of journeys made. By this measure, air travel takes on a very different complexion. Fatalities per 100 million passenger journeys are (on average) 4.5 for cars, 2.7 for trains, and 55.0 for planes! This means you are 12 times more likely to die on a commercial jet compared to a car, and 20 times more likely to die on a commercial jet compared to a train.

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