Is Flying Safer than Driving?
Ryan Bradley | July 14, 2023 | Personal Injury
Is flying safer than driving? No matter how many times this question is answered, it continues to be posed regularly. And it is truly a legitimate question because flying and driving are two of the most popular ways humans get around.
The answer to the question, “Is flying safer than driving?” is yes. Flying is indeed safer. However, this may depend on certain factors, such as the precise type of travel that an air or auto passenger is engaged in.
A quick comparison of the accident numbers makes it seem abundantly clear that flying is safer than driving. However, delving a little deeper into what these statistics represent actually muddles the issue a little.
Commercial vs. Private
When analyzing crash data, it is essential to differentiate between commercial and private airlines. Once you do so, the crash data for airplanes become slightly clearer.
What you see is that most airplane crashes that occur in a given year do not involve commercial airliners. Instead, they consist of private pilots flying private planes, both of which require far less regulation than their commercial counterparts.
It is this difference in regulation that separates the safety record of commercial flights from those operated by private individuals. The more stringent testing and operational requirements commercial pilots face make them far less likely to cause a crash when flying commercially.
Compared With Cars
Car accidents occur far more often than airplane accidents do. But what about flying privately, such as a pilot and his family voyaging to the coast for dinner — or an aviation enthusiast who loves flying to the mountains on weekends? Are these types of flights safer than driving?
It depends on how you look at it. On a per-hour basis, private planes are far more dangerous than vehicles on the highway. However, if you approach the question using a per-mile basis, private planes have only a fraction of the accidents that cars do.
But this is not necessarily because they are safer. Indeed, it is largely due to the fact that planes typically log more miles to get to the same destination as cars.
Risk Aversion and Choosing How To Travel
Ultimately, your level of risk aversion will factor heavily in your transportation choices. For the most risk-averse of all, private planes flown by friends or family can be a wonderful means of getting around. The same holds for motorcycles. But both of these are among the most dangerous forms of air and highway travel.
If you don’t mind a little risk, automobile travel is always available, whether you drive a car yourself or take public transportation. But over 40,000 people die every year on America’s highways. So your odds of experiencing a crash are always high.
Private charter planes are another option for those who can stand a little risk. Although not considered commercial airlines, charter airlines have high standards of their own. But charter airlines are not as heavily regulated and scrutinized as commercial airliners. So more errors and intentional corner-cutting happen at this level.
Out of driving and all forms of flying, flying commercially is the safest way to travel. And depending on how you view the data, private flying can be either more dangerous or safer than driving on the highway.
No matter which method of travel you choose, though, it is ultimately impossible to guarantee safe passage. No one is immune to an accident, no matter how safely they drive or how wisely they are when choosing their common carriers.
Fortunately, victims of transportation accidents can file a claim for compensation or a lawsuit for damages. Through these means, they can seek to recover the losses they suffered.
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