we fear what's most readily available in memory. Why do so many smokers (whose habit shortens their lives, on average, by about five years) fret before flying (which, averaged across people, shortens life by one day)? The result: We overvalue lottery tickets, overestimate flight risk, and underestimate the dangers of driving. Third, we fear what's immediate. During these years, the National Safety Council's Research and Statistics Department tells me, we were 37 times safer per passenger mile in planes than motor vehicles. We drove 3,411 billion miles in the most recent year (1995) for which Statistical Abstract of the United States provides data. (I'm not sure how many people will have died in nonterrorist plane crashes this year, but I suspect it will end up as fewer than 100, as in the prior four years. Several years ago I independently analyzed data from the decade of the 1980s and found that commercial flights were 26 times safer per passenger mile. By so doing, we can take away the terrorists' most omnipresent weapon: exaggerated fear. Last year we flew 692 billion miles.
Or consider this: From 19 there were.4 deaths per 10 million passengers.S. (My highway risk may be muted by my not drinking and driving, but I'm still vulnerable to others who.). The odds of 22 consecutive heads are 1 in 4,194,304.
And when terrorists strike again, remember the odds. Vehicle accidents includes cars, truck, and motorcycles and both passengers and pedestrians. So the remaining 3500 would have to come from terrorist crashes. National Safety Council: 35 deaths from venomous snakes, lizards, and spiders from 19, as reported in "Injury Facts" (m). Details of calculation: The Air Transport Association reports that 483 passengers were killed in plane crashes from (97 per year). "Commercial Aviation Gallup Report, March/April, 1989,. The terrorists' goal, he says, is "not only to kill write essays online and maim and destroy" but to frighten us into inaction.1. Skiing, by one estimate, poses 1000 times the health and injury risk of food preservatives.12 Yet many people gladly assume the risk of skiing, which they control, but avoid preservatives. Slovic, "Perception of Risk Science 236 (1987 280-285. Even if not, terrorists could take down 50 more planes with 60 passengers each and-if we kept flying-we'd still have been safer this year in planes than on the road.9 Flying may be scary, but driving the same distance should be many times scarier.