Cable news is full of coverage of the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco Airport right now. And it makes sense—a large plane crashing is news. At the same time, it’s worth reiterating that plane crashes are news because they’re so amazingly rare. On a per passenger mile basis, you’re over seventy times likelier to die driving a car.
Yet even though car wrecks (and cars running down bicyclists or pedestrians) are a much larger social risk, they never get this kind of coverage which is a bit of a shame. To an extent planes vs cars is an apples-to-oranges comparison (you’re obviously not going to drive from Seoul to San Francisco and you’re not going to fly from San Francisco to Palo Alto) but there are routes where planes and cars compete directly and it’s worth being clear on the fact that planes are the safe option.