Friday, May 02, 2014

Are Airplanes Truly Deadly?

By Michael Moran  

Good news everyone! You’re not going to die in a plane crash! Even if you live to be a hundred and fifty and fly more than the average person drives, you will never, ever, even be involved in an airline disaster. Sure airplane tragedies will always occur every now and then in some part of the world, and the media will make sure you know every last detail about each and every one, but your personal  chances of being a part of one are so minuscule that they are effectively zero. Every plane you will ever board will land safely (just like you will never hit the lottery, unfortunately.)




Now, I realize I’m not the first statistically-minded, skeptic to counter popular flight-anxiety with the impressive safety record of air travel, but the recent media bombardment concerning the tragic disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, seems to me, so unprecedentedly massive that the point is worth reiterating. Sure,  everyone has heard that your chances of dying in the car on the way to the airport are about several hundredfold, or that  95% of those unlucky enough to be in a plane crash, survive it, or (if you’re a Texan) you have a better chance of death by court-mandated electric chair. Even Christopher Reeve had a line in the first Superman movie, explaining to a recently rescued Lois Lane, “statistically speaking  (flight) is still the safest way to travel.”  But are people able to effectively consider these facts when News coverage feeds them wave after wave of morbid detail concerning those rare instances when planes do crash? No. The media attention, driven by the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy, inspires people to drive instead of fly, where a much higher fatality rate is inevitable.

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