The Real Risk

Civil Rights

Airplane Terrorists

According to the US Dept. of Transportation, there were exactly 96,737,658 scheduled commercial airline flights (domestic & international to the USA) during the 10-year period from Jan 2000 to Dec 2009.  During the same 10-year period (including the attempt made at the start of 2010), there were 6 attempted terrorist attacks on US aviation.  The actual risk of terrorist attack is 6 / 96.7 Million, or 1 in 16,122,943.

According to the US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), a total of 708.4 Million passenger screeens were performed in 2004, implying that roughly 7 Billion security screens were performed during the same 10-year period.  Not one of those screens ever caught a terrorist.

However a total of 1,708,400,522 “knifes” were seized as a result of performing 708,400,522 passenger scans and 535,020,271 baggage scans during 2004.  That’s 1 in 728, or 0.1%.

It is important to remember that in 2004, TSA determined that a file attached to your toenail clipper was actually a “knife”.    Other “dangerous” items confiscated by the TSA included 11,616,249 lighters (that are now permitted on aircraft).

To capture these “dangerous” items, the TSA unconstitutionally opened 16% of all checked bags, of which there were 85,571,710.   These searches were unconstitutional because they were performed without probable cause.  In other words, if the TSA were treated as a police force, they would not have been able to obtain a search warrant for those searches.

Assuming an average of 2 checked bags per passenger that checks bags, that means that 15.9% of 42.8 Million passengers, or 6.8 Million passengers a year have their constitutional rights violated by an illegal search.  Over a 10-year period, this is roughly 68 Million people.

Although many people believe that TSA stands for “Thousands Standing Around”, the statistics show the real meaning is “Terrorizing by Searching Airlines”.

Comparative Risks

According to the US National Lightning Safety Institute,  the highest risk of being struck by lightning in North America occurs in Wyoming.  That state has a casualty rate of 7.21 per Million, or 1 in 138,696.  (By comparison, the odds of being struck by lightning in Canada is 1 in 428,571.)  You would need to fly on 116 airplanes to have the same risk as a lightning strike in Wyoming.  Let alone actually being a casualty due to the 1:138,696 odds.

According to the State of California Dept of Conservation, the annual risk of experiencing an earthquake in San Fransciso is 1 in 62.5 (80% chance in 50 years).  You would need to fly on 257,967 airplanes to run the same risk.  Funny that such a “high” risk doesn’t seem to bother the 16.4 Million visitors to San Fransisco each year.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the incidence rate of breast cancer is 102 per 100,000 or roughly 1 in 1000.  A woman would need to fly on 16,452 airplanes to be at the same level of risk as she already is from breast cancer.

According to Statistics Canada, the mortality rate due to all causes is 712 per 100,000 or 1 in 140.  In other words you are 115,000 times more likely to die from other causes than you are from an attack on the airplane you are on.

According to the Paling Perspective Scale published by the Risk Communications Institute, a risk level of 1 in 16 Million is an risk that is “Effectively Zero”. 

In fact, according to the Risk Communications Institute,  the risk of being at risk (due all causes of risk) is only 1 in 100,000.

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