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What is a person’s chance of dying in an airplane crash?

Many people are afraid of flying and it’s a fear that is easy to understand. When we get on an airplane, we put our lives in the hands of mechanics, manufacturers and pilots. Many aircraft passengers feel like they have zero control over their safety and also feel as though their chances of dying in an airplane crash are high.

While many airplane crashes do result in deaths, it is important to put the numbers into perspective. The same individuals who are afraid of flying are often individuals who drive every day to and from work. How does driving compare to flying in a U.S. air carrier in terms of accidents?

In general, there are many more car accidents each year than there are accidents involving U.S. air carriers with scheduled services. Past years showed numbers of more than 5 million car accidents versus just 20 airplane accidents. We do have to remember that these statistics do not look at small airplane crashes.

So what are the odds that an individual will die in a plane crash versus a motor vehicle accident? If we look at statistics from 2008, the odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident were one in 98 in a person’s lifetime. The odds of dying in an aviation accident (this does include air taxis as well as private flights) were one in 7,178 in a lifetime.

Although a person is more likely to die in a car accident, this does not diminish the very tragic outcome of an airplane crash. The crash can affect hundreds of people and their families and leave many with unanswered questions.

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