Travel: Rather Cheap than Safe

July 10, 2013, 7:00 PM GMT+0

Most Americans say they'd make a 500 mile trip by car, the option they say is cheapest but not safest

Last weekend, the crash-landing of an Asiana flight in San Francisco, which killed 2 and injured nearly 200, thrust the issue of transportation safety back into the news. A new YouGov survey now illuminates the considerations travelers have when making travel plans.

Although a single plane crash, the first by a passenger plane in the United States since 2009, made national headlines, it is not the prefered mode of transport of Americans for a moderately long trip. If they were traveling 500 miles, 60% of Americans say they would make the trip by car, 32% would travel by plane and 6% would travel by train.

While car travel is the most popular choice for a trip, it is - correctly - not regarded as the safest mode of transportation. When asked what the safest way to travel, 44% of Americans say it is by plane. This is higher than the number of those who say car travel is safer (22%) or train travel is safer (19%) combined. According to most sources, plane travel is the safest mode of transportation.

Americans' typical mode of travel might not match up with their perception of safety, but it does match up with something else: price. The majority of Americans say that car travel is the most inexpensive way to travel 500 miles. 57% say it is cheapest compared with 20% who say train travel and 8% who say plane travel.

There are some demographic differences in travel preferences, too. Younger Americans are almost just as likely to fly 500 miles (40%) as they are to drive (42%). Older Americans on the other hand, are much more likely to usually drive (73%) than fly (24%). Democrats too are more likley to usually fly (39%) than Republicans (26%).

As for airplane safety in general, few say (15%) it is getting worse compared with ten years despite the recent crash. Far more say that airplane is just as safe as it was ten years ago (47%) or even safer (28%).

Even so, a large group of Americans still reported that they were worried about crashing while flying. 15% of Americans who have traveled by plane said they are "extremely" or "very" worried while flying, and 57% are at least slightly worried about crashing when they fly.

According to research by Politifact, commerical airlines have a fatality rate of .003 per 100 million passenger miles, while buses have a rate of .05, trains a rate of .06 and cars a rate of .61 fatalities per 100 million passenger miles.

Find the full results here.