Driving & Plane Crash Media Coverage


Compare coverage of driving related incidents to other travel incidents including plane crashes, in order to gain an awareness of the media's coverage of distracted driving compared to plane accidents

Early Findings

  • Cars are still far more deadly than flying, with 30,000 people in the US each year dying in traffic accidents, compared to around 400 who die in aviation accidents, a figure which includes more dangerous private flights.
  • One source notes that despite the high media coverage plane crashes receive, the number of commercial flight accidents has steadily declined since the 1980's.
  • In 2016, transportation safety advocates promoted the media using the phrase 'car crash' over the phrase 'car accident' in order to increase the sense of personal responsibility drivers have to pay attention and be safe, and their role in preventing accidents.
  • The chances of dying in a plane crash in one's lifetime are only 1 in 8,321, and 100 times this for driving.
  • It was estimated that in 2014, a year that had particularly high amount of plane incidences compared to other years, the media gave 43% more coverage to flight deaths than to ground traffic deaths.
  • This was linked to news outlets chasing ratings, as the crash of MH370 gave CNN a 68% spike in viewership during coverage, and inspired a million Tweets per day.
  • The high interest and viewership for plane crashes also prompted NatGeo to develop their show, Air Crash Investigation.
  • News coverage of private plane crashes are said to contribute to the idea that flying is dangerous, as private planes are far more dangerous than commercial flights.
  • Measured in per hour of transportation, flying on a private plane is 19 times more dangerous than driving.

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