Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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12

Jan

2020

Imagine being a victim

Author: Jim Taylor

It is, perhaps, the most terrifying way to die. No one likes falling, not even off a footstool. But being hundreds or thousands of feet in the sky, and falling helplessly, is everyone’s nightmare...

            But it wasn’t a dream for 176 people aboard Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 earlier this week.

           Fortunately, these disasters don’t happen often. If you’re going to put your life into someone else’s hands, commercial aviation offers the safest, best regulated, way of travelling. Ian Savage of Northwestern University  calculated fatality rates per passenger of various forms of transportation. Airlines came in at 0.07 per billion passenger miles. Bus, subway, and train all ranked below one per billion miles.

            Cars were seven times higher; motorcycles more than 200 times higher.

            Setting aside a plane’s greenhouse gas emissions, you’re safer flying across a continent than walking to the corner store.

            Except that if something goes wrong at 35,000 feet up, you can’t get out and walk home.


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