Fear of flying

Sea plane

Happy landings!

2012 was the safest year to fly since the start of the jet age

Last year only 475 people died in air crashes, while around 3 billion flights were made.  According to an M.I.T. statistician, quoted in Monday’s New York Times, “flying has become so reliable that a traveler could fly every day for an average of 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash.”

Flying in a commercial airliner* these days is fantastically safe.  But it doesn’t always feel safe.  And it’s this feeling, rather than cold hard facts, that shapes our attitudes to air travel.

On this morning’s Today programme David Spiegelhalter, Cambridge University’s Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, compared the risks of death associated with various modes of transport.

When you look at the numbers, it quickly becomes clear that you’re a lot more likely to die in an accident driving to the airport than in a plane crash.  It also became clear that we need a lot more David Spiegelhalters around to help us make sense of risk.

Air and rail: miles safer than car, foot or motorbike

* things don’t look so good when you look at the numbers for private planes

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7 Responses to Fear of flying

  1. this reinforces something i read a few years ago regarding nuclear safety..i thought you might find interesting,if you haven’t already read it.
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/03/the-triumph-of-coal-marketing.html

  2. David says:

    Thanks Mary! 🙂 That’s a very useful piece. D

    • cheers david…i’m fairly sure you’re well aware of seth godin..he’s one of my favourite people…on that link you can subscribe to a daily email..it’s usually very brief,but a great read first thing in the morning…on the surface he relates heavily to marketing,but at the core he’s actaully all about culture raising its own bar concerning the way we behave. i get a feeling you’d love getting that daily email,if you don’t already do. he’s highly relevant to your own work.

  3. sorry about that…here’s the link

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