Is Flying Safer Than Driving?
October 31, 2023 | Car Accidents
Whether you’re flying or driving, getting into any sort of vehicle can feel risky these days. However, you may be wondering whether one mode of transportation has an advantage over the other when it comes to safety.
While most people just go with their gut feeling when deciding whether flying or driving is the safer option, it’s important to take a look at the data.
Flying vs. Driving: What Do the Statistics Indicate?
According to the International Air Transport Association, there was one fatal aircraft accident for every 7.7 million flights taken in 2021. This works out to a fatality risk of just 0.23 percent.
Do you think that driving safety statistics can beat that? Think again. In 2021, 42,795 people died in fatal car crashes, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This adds up to 1.37 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Generally, your odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 93.
While a person would have to fly every day for 10,000 years to be involved in a fatal aviation accident, many people experience fatal car crashes every day. If you were to make a decision about the safety of flying vs. driving based solely on the numbers, it’s much safer for you to take that plane ride than it is for you to get into a car.
Why Is Flying So Safe Even When It Feels So Risky?
For many people, flying feels riskier than driving despite what the data says about the chances of a fatality occurring during either activity. This often happens for a number of reasons, including a fear of heights, issues with being in enclosed spaces, and the fact that a car accident simply looks more “survivable” than falling out of the sky.
Still, flying is indeed the safer option for most, and this is because most people are flying commercial airlines. Commercial aircraft and the people who operate them are heavily regulated by the federal government.
Airlines must follow strict rules that govern safety training for pilots and flight attendants, as well as aircraft maintenance. These regulations contribute significantly to commercial aircraft safety, and they simply don’t exist for drivers on the road.
While some states require vehicle inspections every year, the safety standards are nowhere near as strict as they are for aircraft. There are rules for driving, but many people skirt them with little consequence. This, combined with the fact that most people spend much more time driving than flying, contributes to the fact that driving increases the risk of catastrophic injury and death.
Flying Charter and Private Planes: Are They Equally Safe?
The only caveat to the above assessment of the safety of flying vs. driving is that statistics don’t account for fatalities that occur on chartered and private planes. They are governed by other parts of the commercial flight regulations:
Because requirements for pilot training and aircraft maintenance and inspection are much lower, the risk of fatalities due to mechanical failures or inexperienced pilots is much higher.
You Can Choose Your Level of Risk
Whether you travel by commercial aircraft, car, or some other mode of transportation, you will never eliminate your risk of a crash or accident 100 percent. However, you can mitigate that risk by sticking to commercial airlines when you fly and following the law whenever you drive.
Chartered and private flights can offer freedom in your transportation choices, but they come with more risk. How much of it you’re willing to take on is always up to you. What matters most is that you are able to make as informed a decision as possible about your personal safety.
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