Planes, Buses, and Trains are Safer than Driving a Car

Consumers often see news of airline crashes and they have recently seen stories about Amtrak crashes and safety problems in the D.C. area Metrorail commuter system. Driving is, however, many times more dangerous than either airline travel or any American commuter rail system.

Measured as fatalities per miles traveled, the comparative statistics over the five-year period 2009-2013 for the most common modes of transportation in order from the safest to the least safe are: 0.06 fatalities per billion miles for commercial airlines (private and other small planes are much less safe); 0.14 fatalities per billion miles for buses; 0.24 fatalities per billion miles for subways and metrorail systems; 0.47 fatalities per billion miles for Amtrak and commuter rail; 5.75 fatalities per billion miles for private cars and trucks; and 217 fatalities per billion miles for motorcycles.

Thus, traveling by air is more than 90 times safer than traveling the same distance by car; traveling the same distance by train or bus ranges from more than 12 to more than 40 times safer than by car. Traveling by motorcycle is over 30 times more dangerous than by car and hundreds of times more dangerous than plane, train or bus.

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