July 6, 2009
It’s often said that flying is one of the safest ways to travel, and the numbers bear it out. According to the most recent statistics from the International Air Transport Association, there were only 0.13 fatalities per million airplane passengers last year.
That means air travel was about eight times safer than the one-in-a-million standard often used to count something as extremely unlikely. Here’s a chart showing activities that increase your annual death risk by one micromort (great word!)—the unit for a one-in-a-million probability of dying. It turns out that flying 1,000 miles in a jet carries about the same negligible risk as having one chest x-ray, or traveling 10 miles by bicycle, or breathing Boston air for two days.
I know, statistics aren’t always much help when it comes to fear of flying. But at least the numbers are on your side.