Do you have a fear of flying? Do you know people who share that fear? You’re not alone. According to FlyFright.com, approximately 1 in 3 Americans fear traveling by airplane. But is that fear backed up by data? Research says no. In fact, air travel is the safest mode of transportation when compared to the number of fatal accidents attributed to automobiles, boats, and trains.
On an average day, 3,287 people across the world perish in car crashes. Over the course of a year that number jumps to 1.3 million, not including the 20-50 million who are injured or disabled in a crash. But few people fear climbing behind the wheel of a car or finding a seat on a bus. Many psychologists call this phenomenon a “fear of the rare.”
Aviophobia, the fear of flying, is exacerbated by news coverage of fatal flights, whereas car accidents rarely receive the attention of national news networks. However, such coverage can be attributed to the rarity of aviation-related fatalities. According to aviation consultants Top70, per every 16 million commercial flights, there is only one fatal accident. So, when that 1 in 16 million occurs, it becomes incredibly newsworthy.
Furthermore, the fear of flying might be attributed to the lack of control one feels when they buckle up for a flight. Even though cars are, by far, the most dangerous means of travel, drivers possess the feeling of control and culpability. When someone is driving a car, they understand that speeding enhances their risk of getting into an accident. They acknowledge that risk and decide how to proceed.
They feel that by making such decisions (to speed or not to speed) they are in control of their safety. However, when flying, passengers are forced to relinquish control to the pilot. They are unlikely to know the pilot’s flight and safety records, nor do they know their years of experience. Passengers of a flight are asked to give up control and instill blind trust in their pilot, which adds to the fear they might already possess.
It’s understandable why people fear flying, for the same reason it’s understandable that people fear heights. Being miles above the face of the earth can feel unnatural and unsettling. But for years now, scientists and researchers all over the world have concluded that the data proves your safety is most assured with air travel.