Don't let the headlines get to you - you should not fear flying

March 30, 2019

 

It was confirmed recently that nine British nationals were among the 157 confirmed to have died in the Ethiopian Airlines flight tragedy. The plane crashed just minutes after take-off for reasons unknown at the time of writing, however it shares similar traits to that of last year’s Lion Air jet, which plunged into the Java Sea killing another 189. These two events and others like it are tragic and without question raises people’s fears of flying, but other statistics show that the fears of an estimated 70% of worried airline passengers are being misplaced.

 

In 2016 there were over 180,000 car accident casualties in Britain recorded, 1792 were fatal. A car accident can happen in a split second, by a driver’s foot simply slipping on the brake pedal, or having black ice on the road causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. But when we hear of fatal accidents on the road we are not deterred from driving the very next day. Just last October an elderly gentleman drove the wrong way down the M40 with a caravan attached to his trailer, causing cars approaching him to have to veer drastically out off the road to avoid collision. A 32-year-old man was killed that same day after colliding head on with the car. Yet this fear of experiencing a fatality in a similar incident almost never crosses a driver’s mind as they set off on a journey. These examples of fatal car accidents occurred due to drivers making avoidable mistakes such as looking at their phone screen, or taking a simple wrong turn. Surely with drivers making such dangerous mistakes like this on the road every day, people should fear cars far more than planes.

 

There are other reasons to fear flying, however, such as a lack of familiarity to your surroundings. Travelling by car, train or bus is almost a daily activity for most people, as they commute to and from work and other day to day activities. Yet getting on a plane is a whole new experience. As soon as you take your seat you are bombarded with worst case scenario’s and flight safety information leaflets and procedures. It is no wonder people become apprehensive throughout take-off as their mind become filled with visions of the plane losing it’s ‘left falange’ mid-flight and having to make an emergency landing. 

 

 

It also doesn’t help that news stories only tend to cover plane crashes if there has been a fatality, again increasing anxiety towards flying. Perhaps if more news stories covered the safe landing of planes then passengers would have more trust in the pilot of their plane and the years of training they have been through. Statistics show that the odds of dying as a flight passenger are over 1 in 200,000. This compares to the odds of 1 in 4050 for dying as a cyclist, and 1 in 102 for dying in a car crash. It is through looking at these statistics that a fear of flying seems pointless especially, considering the few times that an average person will get on a plane each year in comparison to getting into a car.

 

It is so unlikely that you personally will be involved in a fatal plane crash that it really shouldn’t affect your decision to fly. In fact, it can be argued that flying is actually one of the safest ways to travel from A-Z. Of course, a few butterflies before take-off are completely natural, as you are about to travel at 35,000 ft in the air. However, letting a tragedy such as the one last week change your holiday plans is a bit extreme.

 

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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