What is the Most Dangerous Way to Travel in the U.S.?

Francis Lanzano Contributor
What is the Most Dangerous Way to Travel in the U.S.?

Answer: Motorcycles. For example, a motorcyclist who traveled 15 miles every day for a year, had an astonishing 1 in 860 chance of dying. 

Two deadly plane crashes within five months of each other have rocked Boeing and the aviation industry, forcing the worldwide grounding of the Chicago-based company’s 737 Max airliners. The high-profile plane crashes aren’t anything new, unfortunately. If we rewind the clock just four years ago to May of 2015, news headlines focused on the tragic loss of the Germanwings Flight 4U9525 in March after it was deliberately downed by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. In the preceding December, an AirAsia plane, flight QZ8501, went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 passengers. In reality, however, plane crashes are fairly uncommon. The rarity makes them newsworthy simply because so many people fly each and every day. The sheer loss of life is also understandably terrifying.

With that said, in 2015 flying was the safest mode of transportation with just 0.07 deaths per one billion passenger miles according to Ian Savage who is a professor in the department of economics at Northwestern University. Bringing this discussion back to the present day, these results are largely still the same. For every billion passenger miles traveled, getting from point A to point B by way of an airplane remains the safest. A bus is the second safest means of transportation followed by urban mass transit rail, commuter rails, ferry boats, and then cars.

There was one method of transportation that was by far the most dangerous way to travel: motorcycles. According to Savage who analyzed the number of passenger fatalities per billion passenger miles in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009, these two-wheeled contraptions didn’t even fit on the chart (see below). As Martin Armstrong from Statista notes, “with a rate of 212.57, riding a motorcycle is by far the most deadly way to get around – an enormous distance ahead of the second-most dangerous mode of transport – a car or light truck – with 7.28 fatalities per billion passenger miles.” Armstrong then quoted Savage who said, “a motorcyclist who traveled 15 miles every day for a year, had an astonishing 1 in 860 chance of dying. The rate per passenger mile was 29 times that for automobiles and light trucks.” That being said, next time you’re on an airplane feeling slightly sad or anxious, cheer up – it’s one of the safest ways to get to where you’re going.

Infographic: The Most Dangerous Ways to Travel in the U.S. | Statista