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What Are the Safest Forms of Transportation?

Craig McClellan

After a car accident, many people are afraid to get back on the roads. It is only natural to avoid things that have hurt us. The same can be said of individuals who have experienced a traumatic train ride or plane trip. Taking a break from driving, riding or flying is perfectly fine, but it raises the question: What are the safe alternatives? If you need to travel, what is the safest form of transportation?

This is a challenging question, because there are multiple variables. Driving is considered more dangerous than the other forms of travel, but part of the danger lies in the driver him or herself. If you are an attentive driver, you are less likely to be involved in an auto accident than a distracted driver, for example. Of course, there is always the danger that another driver causes an accident you cannot foresee.

What are the statistics? According to information from the Department of Transportation, there are 1.42 passenger fatalities per 100,000,000 motor vehicle passenger miles travelled. This is more than three times the amount of fatalities on a ferry boat -- 0.41 fatalities per 100,000,000 passenger miles and substantially higher than the fatalities reported for air travel (0.20), commuter rail (0.06), transit bus (0.05), Amtrak train (0.03) and general rail transit (0.02).

In other words, the odds of dying in a car accident are seven times greater than the odds of dying in a plane accident and more than 71 times greater than the odds of a rail transit fatality.

Does that mean you should stay off the roads? Of course not. These are general statistics that do not encompass all of the variables. Some people prefer driving to taking the train or flying because they are more in control of the outcome. Others would prefer to relinquish that control. More importantly, if you have been involved in an accident -- no matter what type of accident -- know that the pain and fear will lessen. Sometimes, conquering that fear can be a positive step toward recovery.

Source: Federal Transit Administration, State Safety Oversight Program, " 2009 Rail Safety Statistics Report," 2009