Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Popular Mechanics Produces Something Useful

If you're afraid of flying, consider a seat at the back of the plane. You may find yourself close to the bathrooms and you may have to wait for your soda, but there might be compensatory benefits:

MYTH: It Doesn't Matter Where You Sit
REALITY: It's Safer In the Back.

The funny thing about all those expert opinions: They're not really based on hard data about actual airline accidents. A look at real-world crash stats, however, suggests that the farther back you sit, the better your odds of survival. Passengers near the tail of a plane are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows up front.

That's the conclusion of an exclusive Popular Mechanics study that examined every commercial jet crash in the United States, since 1971, that had both fatalities and survivors. The raw data from these 20 accidents has been languishing for decades in National Transportation Safety Board files, waiting to be analyzed by anyone curious enough to look and willing to do the statistical drudgework.

Disclaimer: accidents in air travel are extraordinarily rare. And air travel is far safer than driving. But if you're one of those that wants to minimize your risk, the info might come in handy.

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