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What Are the Odds You'd Survive a Plane Crash? The Answer Might Surprise You


Texas public safety officers examine the wreckage of a private plane that crashed on Treasure Cove St. in the Cumberland Ridge subdivision south of Tyler, Texas, Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 12. (Photo: AP/Herb Nygren Jr.)

Nervous fliers have probably heard from others trying to assuage their fears that they're more likely to die from a car crash than an aircraft accident. But just what are the odds of your survival if you were in a plane crash?

The answer may actually make those afraid of flying feel a bit better as we head into the holiday travel season. It's 95 percent.

Maggie Koerth-Baker, an editor for the site Boing Boing and self-professed nervous flier, recently wrote about this statistic:

Looking at all the commercial airline accidents between 1983 and 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board found that 95.7% of the people involved survived. Even when they narrowed down to look at only the worst accidents, the overall survival rate was 76.6%. Yes, some plane crashes kill everyone on board. But those aren't the norm. So you're even safer than you think. Not only are crashes incredibly rare, you're more likely to survive a crash than not. In fact, out of 568 accidents during those 17 years, only 71 resulted in any fatalities at all.

If you want to try and up your odds, Baker also points to a 2007 Popular Mechanics review of NTSB reports that found people are more likely to survive a crash if they are sitting toward the back of the plane. Of course, this would depend on the type of crash and a variety of other factors as well.

In October, a test crash of a Boeing 727 in the desert conducted by Discovery TV revealed some insights as to what happens during a plane crash. Good Morning America (via Yahoo! News) reported that researchers analyzed the "injuries" sustained by the dummies on the plane -- the human pilots ejected themselves before purposefully crashing it -- among other results of the crash.

Cindy Bir, a biomedical engineering professor at Wayne State University, said the experiment revealed that assuming the position of putting your head down and your hands over your head increases survival odds, according to Good Morning America. Sitting five rows within an exit was found to be beneficial as well -- although not in "fatal" rows of one through seven -- since passengers would need to exit the plane quickly after impact.

Watch Discovery's video of the test crash:

(H/T: io9)

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