Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We live in a much safer world

In honor of my wife and I leaving today for St. Martin, for our first vacation in years, here are some reassuring statistics about flying, as well as other safety measures.

To start with, want to guess how many fatalities there were on U.S. airlines in 2010? Your guess is either going to be correct or too high, because there wasn't a single one. This is the third year in the past four without a single death, despite more than 10 million flights with more than 700 million passengers a year. (The Week, Feb 4, 2011)

In fact, as Stephen Moore and Julian Simon mention in It's Getting Better All the Time, "Peter Spencer of Consumers' Research magazine estimates that if an individual were to take a random flight every day, on average 20,000 years would pass before the person perished in a fatal crash." These charts are from their book, too.

Here's a look at death rates in the U.S. from natural disasters. Of course, this chart ends at 2000 and so doesn't include Hurricane Katrina (for example), but the overall trend is clear.

The rate of accidents for infants has fallen 88 percent since 1900, and the rate of accidents for seniors has fallen 72 percent. "Americans are now employed in occupations that are far safer than in the past. The accidental death rate at work has plummeted from about 38 per 100,000 workers in 1930 to about 28 in 1950 to about 4 per 100,000 today."

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