Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why People Are More Scared To Fly Than Drive

"Sandman's 'control' principle might also explain why most people are more scared of flying in an airplane than driving a car. Their thinking goes like this: since I control the car, I am the one keeping myself safe; since I have no control of the airplane, I am at the mercy of myriad external factors.

"So which should we actually fear more, flying or driving?


"If you are taking a trip and have the choice of driving or flying, you might wish to consider the per-hour death rate of driving versus flying. It is true that many more people die in the United States each year in motor vehicle accidents (roughly forty thousand) than in airplane crashes (fewer than one thousand). But it's also true that most people spend a lot more time in cars than in airplanes. (More people die even in boating accidents each year than in airplane crashes; as we saw with swimming pools versus guns, water is a lot more dangerous than most people think.) The per-hour death rate of driving versus flying, however, is about equal. The two contraptions are equally likely (or, in truth, unlikely) to lead to death." (p. 150-151)

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