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Safest and Deadliest Ways to Travel


It happened again: another plane crash with horrific images of debris flashing across our television screens and all forms of social media. Grief-stricken loved ones arrived at the airport where memorials were already overflowing with flowers and toys in honor of the 224 people on board who lost their lives. The Russian airliner leaving from a resort area in Egypt and heading back to St. Petersburg, Russia, broke into pieces in mid-air over a remote area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on October 31. Because the plane broke apart in the air, debris was scattered over miles. However, both flight data recorders--"black boxes"--have been recovered and the data is being analyzed. While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the crash, and terrorism is one possibility, analysts stress that it is too early to determine the cause of the fatal disaster. A mid-air heat flash detected by a U.S. military satellite before the plane crashed suggests there was a catastrophic in-flight event, which can include scenarios as diverse as a bomb, or mechanical failure.


Every time a tragic event such as this happens, the 24/7 coverage of the accident by news and social media, together with the high number of lives lost at one time can cause our perception of what is safe and what is not to become skewed. After the highly publicized airline crashes of 2014-2015 (MH 370 which disappeared with its crew and passengers over the Indian Ocean, MH 17 which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, AirAsia A320 which crashed into the Java Sea, and GermanWings A320 which was crashed into the French Alps by its suicidal/mass-murdering co-pilot), people may think that commercial aviation is not a safe way to travel. But statistics show otherwise.

Studies seeking to determine how many deaths occurred per billion miles traveled in various modes of transportation were conducted in two different time periods, 2000-2009 and 2009-2013. The results were nearly identical, meaning that what constituted a safe mode of transportation in the earlier time period still constituted a safe mode of transportation as of the latest year for which statistics were available. Conversely, the least safe modes of transportation remain just that. Motorcycles are in a category far and away riskier than any other mode of transit, at 217 deaths per billion miles traveled. Once out of that level of risk, all other forms of transportation have deaths of less than one, except for cars and trucks. Motor vehicles have 5.75 deaths per billion miles traveled. Compare that figure with: commuter rail and Amtrak at .47 deaths; subway and metro at .24 deaths; buses at .14 deaths; and commercial airlines at .06 deaths per billion miles traveled.


In the United States, there have only been four commercial aircraft accidents resulting in fatalities since 9/11. Since 2009, there have only been two commercial airline accidents that involved fatalities, and out of those two accidents, a total of 53 people died. During that same time period, 30,000-35,000 motor vehicle fatalities occurred every year, which means that since 2009, between 180,000-210,000 people died due to motor vehicle accidents.


What these statistics show is that when it comes to travel, perception is not reality, at least not in the United States. While air travel may be risky in certain areas of the world (regions in conflict and where militants and terror groups are known to be active) and on certain airlines (Russian airliners have bad safety records), commercial air travel in the United States on American and European airlines is incredibly safe. In fact, flying across the country is much safer than commuting to and from work in a car or truck.


If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident or on a motorcycle, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

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