A Pilot’s Comparison of Safety in Planes Versus Cars

I’ve just had a great conversation, this evening, with a pilot who was at the next table to mine at dinner.

Our initial topic came from him and was about the safety comparison between air travel and driving, so I asked whether he was aware that for every person killed in commercial flights worldwide, each year, over 2,160 people are killed in road crashes.  Yes, a ratio of more than 2,000-to-1,  and even the number of people killed annually just on America’s roads is over 60-times greater than the total number of plane-crash fatalities worldwide.

Various Boeing jets in BBJ livery. (Wikimedia Commons.)

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Should the USA Adopt the ‘Safety Corridor’ Approach for Crash Scenes?

Eight European countries are now requiring drivers to create a “safety corridor” to allow emergency vehicles swift access to trapped and injured people at crash scenes on congested roads.  This methodology could be a life-saver here in the USA, too.

Traffic separates to leave a ten-foot ‘lane’ to allow rescue and police vehicles to reach crash scenes. Getting this to work requires the provision of good education regarding the technique, together with enforcement that significantly penalizes those who selfishly try to cheat.  (Image courtesy of the ETSC)

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The NTSB Calls for National Safety Standards for Limousines

News Release — ​Washington DC — Oct. 2, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday called for new national requirements for seating and seat belt systems on limousines, citing evidence gathered in investigations of accidents in New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
The NTSB’s Safety Recommendation Report recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seating position on all new vehicles modified to be used as limousines. It also requires seating systems in these vehicles to meet minimum performance standards to ensure their integrity during a crash.

The Ford Excursion limousine from the Schoharie crash. [NTSB]
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The Latest Crash and Casualty Figures for the USA

Because of the complexity of the subject, the finalized crash and casualty statistics for 2017 have just been released by NHTSA.

An overhead sign on the approach to a crash scene.  (Copyright image, 2019.)

In that year, in the USA, there were an estimated 6,452,000 police-reported traffic crashes, in which 37,133 people were killed and approximately 2,746,000 people were injured.

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The Big List — U.S. Road Crash Fatality Comparisons that will Stun You!

For many years, there has been a tendency to state that ‘x’ days of road fatalities are the same as a full Jumbo Jet airliner crashing, but no matter how effective the comparison is intended to be, this relies on both the teller and the listener knowing – for example – which size of Jumbo jet one is talking about; there are several different passenger-carrying capacities so even though it is a big plane the concept is a bit vague.

Memorial garden at the crash site of Colgan Air (Continental Connection) Flight 3407, which occured on February 12, 2009, with the loss of fifty lives.
The memorial garden in Clarence Center, NY, a location which — at the time of writing — is the site of the most recent passenger plane crash in the USA, which occurred more than ten years ago.  As a matter of perspective, however, the fifty people lost in that tragic, headline-news incident represent less than half of the people who are killed, on average, every single day of every year on America’s roads. (Copyright image, 2019.)

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