29th May 2006.
Despite statistical evidence that
travelling by rail, air or sea is far safer than by car, a
new study covering more than 1,000 motorists across the UK
shows that car drivers
feel safer behind the wheel
than in other modes of transport.
However, although they feel safer at
the wheel, drivers are terrified when sitting as a
In a study compiled by Brake and Green
Flag, drivers felt safer
behind the wheel than as a passenger on a train, plane or
ferry – despite actually being aware that these
alternative modes of transport are much less likely to end
in disaster than a car journey. Nine people die on roads
every day in the UK. However most respondents ranked being
a passenger in a car as one of the modes of transport that
made them feel least safe.
The motorists were asked to rank six
different modes of transport (driver in car, passenger in
car, bus, train, plane, and ferry) in order according to
how safe they made them feel.
Two thirds (66%) ranked driving a
car among the top three modes of transport that made
them feel safest, with more than half of these (more than
38% of total sample) saying driving made them feel the
safest out of all modes listed.
By comparison, only one 1 in 6
motorists (16%) said they felt safest on a train and only
1 in 10 (10%) felt safest on a ferry. 1 in 4 (26%) felt
safest in a plane.
Only 1 in 33 (3%) of respondents said
they felt safest when a passenger in a car. Nearly
two thirds of respondents (59%) ranked being a passenger
in a car as one of the modes of transport that made them
feel least safe.
Revealingly, the research also shows
that motorists actually know road transport is more
dangerous than travel by rail, air or sea, even though
they feel safer on roads.
When motorists are asked how safe
different travel modes actually are (not the way
they feel), travelling by plane comes out top – with
nearly half (43%) of respondents saying it is probably the
safest form of transport, compared with only 19% of
respondents who think travelling by car is safest.
Nigel Charlesworth, spokesperson for Green
Flag Motoring Assistance said: “The perception
of the dangers associated with motoring are clearly at
odds with the facts and while many of us rely on
car transport in our daily lives, there is an acute need
to become a nation of safer drivers.”
Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of Brake,
said: “Drivers clearly have a false sense of
invulnerability when driving a car, which they
actually know isn’t real. If people deceive
themselves about the inherent dangers of driving this may
explain incessant risk-taking on the road and the daily
death toll. About nine out of ten crashes are due to
She added: “Imagine a jet falling out
of the sky over Britain every fortnight killing 130 people
on board – there would be a national outcry and no-one
would travel by plane. Yet despite the fact that this is
the number of people killed on our roads every fortnight,
we still feel safe in our
cars and think it won’t
happen to us and we won’t hurt anyone else by our
actions. Every time we drive we should remember the nine
people who, on average, were killed on our roads yesterday
and drive with extreme caution and humility today and
tomorrow and beyond.”
Facts indicate that car occupants are
27 times more likely to be killed per km travelled than
air and rail passengers combined, and 13.5 times more
likely than bus and coach passengers. (Department
for Transport, Transport Trends). Motorbikers are 37
times more likely to be killed per mile travelled than car
occupants and three times more likely than cyclists.
Bikers make up only about 1% of traffic but account for
19% of deaths and serious injuries (Department for
Transport Motorcycling Strategy 2005).
Far from suggesting to give up
travelling by car and motorbike, as they have roles that
other means of transport cannot fulfil as nicely or
comfortably or practically, or not at all, facts just
remind us that in most cases, the danger is not in the car
or the bike, but in the human error, coming from
risk-taking or careless drivers, riders, passengers and
sometimes from pedestrians, not to mention the worst:
driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.