Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.
Visit our Flying shop
I think historical statistics are useless in determining whether or not the next flight you make will be safer than making the same trip by car, no matter how you crunch them.
All I do know is that it's obvious to me that, for example, when I fly to Charleston from Columbia SC for the day next weekend, that it will be a helluva lot safer than driving. This judgement is based on experience, not statistics. The drivers on I26, especially about 25 miles from Charleston, average 20 over the limit. Lord knows how many have been/are drinking, and/or playing with their 'devices' while driving, and/or driving aggressively and carelessly. Then think about all the varying levels of drivers' experience, and competancy. (You better hope my mom isn't out there somewhere!!) Consider the vehicles alone. How many need new tires, brakes, etc.? How many owners don't even know you need to change the oil? (And if you run out of gas or have an engine failure, no, you don't always just pull over. You cause a pile-up.)
Compare the scene on the ground to being a thousands of feet above it all, flying safely, proficientlly, and legally, in a legally maintained airplane, making a beeline for your destination, no one for miles around you but other very safety conscience, intellegent, professional (or at least striving to be), highly capable (anyone who can land an airplane has a certain high level of motor skills, a high apptitude, and excellent hand-eye coordination), drug and alcohol free (it would be extremely rare if they were not) drivers.
Does it really take all that number crunching of already obsolete statistical numbers to figure out which is safer?
I'm sure someone has already brought this up, but here goes....
1. Flying is only as safe as the pilot. No surprises, but it escapes some people.
2. In aviation, every little nick and ding is reported as an "accident." In street driving, I can run my car into my mailbox and it never makes it into the accident database. Or I can rear-end another car, and both of us decide it's no big deal and go on our merry ways. (Yes, it does happen. Happened to my Dad).
So can we really compare aviation vs driving accidents? I think it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Or the AK-47 and the M-16. Oh wait....that's another can of worms.... :-)
Wow. I'm very amused that a thread I started eight years ago is still alive! Sadly as the website has been migrated to different platforms much of the formating and links have been damaged, but it's still here; wow. I guess the internet really is forever.
I've recently had to renew my life insurance. When I took out my policy ten years ago I wasn't a pilot; now I am. I'll find out soon enough how dangerous the actuaries think my GA flying is!
As a follow-up to my June 29 comment above, the life insurance company was not pleased that I became a pilot. In the end the insurer offered to insure my life for a very large extra premium, or to grant an exclusion related to flying (i.e., if I die when flying, they don't pay). And getting them to offer the exclusion was like pulling teeth. This answer shows once again that GA flying is more dangerous than driving. The actuaries know it.
The Economist just did a great article on the challenges involved in comparing different modes of transportation. It mentions many of the things that have been said here, and points out that the safety ranking changes depending on what you're measuring, noting that "if fatalities are computed in terms of the number of journeys taken, cars and trains are respectively three times and six times safer than planes."
Difference Engine: Up, up and away – http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/01/air-safety
Your article is obviously extremely interesting! I remember reading a similar one that went into interesting details and it concluded with flying would only be safer than driving while the airlines were included in the equation; however driving would be safer than flying if you only counted GA and not airlines.
When you talk statistics there are sooooo many different factors, especially if you go into terrain, weather, education, etc. I wonder, is GA safer in South Florida than it is in Colorado? I'm a private pilot in Miami and although I completely agree with your article I feel like Flying in Miami is safer than driving (I'm partially joking, but you can see where I'm going with this). I feel like when I drive in Miami I'm surrounded by idiots that should not have a drivers license. When I fly I feel like (even if some pilots are idiots) aviators normally have to have some sort of intellectual level in order to acquire a PPL.
So, do you think that if you take away some of the weather (snow especially) factors as well as terrain (mountains, etc) and add the chances of car fatalities in a city like Miami; is it possible that GA IS safer than driving down in Miami??? ;-)
Take extra care to avoid activities that might detract from flying.
Copyright © 2010 FLYING. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.