STATISTICALLY, you are more than a thousand times likelier to die in a car crash than a plane crash, yet seventy times more people are frightened of flying than driving.
When weighing up the pros and cons of driving and flying, there are multiple factors affecting the perception of risk. If you are the driver of the car, you feel that you have more control over your fate. If the car crashes, you won’t fall 37,000 feet. You don’t have to take off or land, you’re unlikely to hit a mountain and if you do crash, you still have a chance of getting out. You definitely won’t need to eat your passengers to survive.
Commercial flying will always be safer than driving, yet a plethora of films from Alive to Fearless and Passenger 57 tells us otherwise, altering our perceptions of the risks of flight by connecting planes with disaster. It’s a false picture and one that increases the single most irrational element that influences the decision-making process when it comes to risk: fear. Following 9/11 many who would previously have flown chose instead to drive – leading to more fatalities.
The hardest thing to remember is that your fear does not alter the risk. But it can alter personal outcome – possibly to the person’s own detriment – when the decision about how to react in the face of the perceived risk is determined by fear. It would be like jumping out of the plane mid-flight because you genuinely believed the plane was going to crash. Statistically a crash was highly unlikely but opening the door would significantly increase the risk.
Same with Covid-19 and the vaccines. Politicians and mainstream media have successfully rammed home that Covid-19 is akin to Spanish Flu and that the wonderful vaccines are here to save us. Everyone from Matt Hancock (‘it’s the right thing for them, the right thing for their loved ones and the right thing for the country’) to Lenny Henry (‘when your turn comes, take the jab’) and the PM (‘it is the best thing for you, best thing for your family and for everyone else’) urge us to get the jab – yet none can say beyond a reasonable doubt that the vaccines are safe, sufficiently efficacious to warrant the risks or even that their effects last longer than 90 days.