Beginning in the 20th century, the options for traveling both within a community and afar exploded, moving from literal “horsepower” to motor vehicles and air travel in a single generation. These advances make travel accessible to people from all walks of life, from daily commuters on city buses to celebrities and politicians traveling to multiple states in a single day on private jets. But when it comes to choosing travel methods, many people have a skewed perception of which modes of travel are the most dangerous compared to those that are the least dangerous. So, what do the facts and statistics tell us about travel?
How Safe is Air Travel?
Flying in a metal cabin at a cruising altitude of as high as 42,000 feet or as much as eight miles above sea level at speeds of around 500 MPH is a frightening prospect to consider. However, statistics reveal that commercial air travel is statistically the safest travel choice on Earth—or above the Earth. For every billion air miles traveled, there are 0.06 deaths, the majority of which occur to travelers in small, private planes. Airline researchers note that based on 2022 flight fatality data, a person would have to fly every day for 25,214 years to experience a fatal accident.
A Bus Ride is the Second-Safest Mode of Travel
If commercial air travel is frightening to you despite the reassuring statistics, traveling by bus is the second-safest way to travel. Shockingly, bus travel is about 50 times safer than traveling by private vehicle. This data encompasses all types of buses from school buses and charter buses to city buses and airport shuttles. All bus accidents put together make up less than 10% of annual traffic fatalities in the United States. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards and strict requirements for commercial bus driver’s licensing as well as improvements in bus safety features combine to make bus travel the second-safest way to get to a destination.
Train Travel Takes Third Place For Safest Mode of Transportation
Trains have been a time-tested way to travel since the first passenger train left Darlington England with a load of 450 passengers in 1825. As with plane crashes, the overall rarity of train accidents makes them hugely newsworthy events, leading many Americans to have a false impression of the dangers of train travel. In reality, trains are the third safest means of transportation. There are about 1,300 train derailments each year, making up 61% of all train accidents. There were 950 fatalities in train accidents in 2022 and 6,400 injuries. The vast majority of train accidents occur at crossings.
Boating Is the Fourth Safest Way to Travel
Historically, boat travel was fraught with danger, but today, boating is safer than ever. Cruise ships, passenger boats, and ferries make up only 10% of boating deaths, while private, recreational boating accidents account for the other 90%. About 5,000 boating fatalities occur in the U.S. each year, or 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered vessels. Boating fatalities peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 with an astonishing 25% increase over 2019.
Cars are the Second-Most Dangerous Way to Travel
Car travel is by far the most widely used means of travel, with the majority of Americans taking at least one car ride every day. Cars are the fifth safest way to travel or the second-most dangerous.
Around six million car accidents occur in the U.S. each year. About one driver fatality occurs for every 114 accidents and one passenger fatality per every 654 accidents. Seatbelt laws, passenger airbags, and increased safety regulations have lowered fatality rates in car accidents, but an average of over five million car accident injuries occur each year.
Motorcycles Are the Most Dangerous Mode of Transportation
For every million miles of motorcycle miles traveled there’s an alarming 213 deaths. This is about 24 times the car accident fatality rate. Though a helmet can help prevent death, in 2021, 80,626 motorcyclists suffered hospitalizing injuries. Motorcycles are the least safe transportation choice with approximately 80% of motorcycle accidents resulting in death.
Knowing the statistics for the most popular modes of travel can help travelers make wise choices no matter their destination.
If you have been in any kind of transportation accident, reach out to the Austin accident attorneys at Shaw Cowart today to review your case.