As can be seen in the accompanying table, among the causes of death — drug and alcohol use are high on the list as are common falls. One is 2,000 times more likely to die of heart disease or cancer, or 100 times more likely to die in an automobile accident in a given year than from a terrorist attack.
Most people have little understanding of the relative risks of dying when using various forms of transportation. Commercial airlines are by far and away the safest form of transit per passenger mile. In fact, you are about 62 times safer in an airplane than an automobile for a long-distance trip. Airplane crashes obtain a lot of media coverage, in part, because they are so rare, particularly among U.S.-scheduled airlines. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport procedures are so unnecessarily unfriendly and intrusive that they cause many people to drive rather than fly. And yes, the TSA may cause some reduction in the number of deaths caused by terrorists, but it is highly questionable if that number is greater than the number of excessive automobile deaths that are caused by the TSA.
One is about 14 times more likely to die in a bicycle accident and 35 times more likely to die when riding a motorcycle than in an automobile accident, per mile traveled. Even walking is more dangerous than driving — 17 times as dangerous. This is not to say that people should stop cycling or walking — both of which have very good health benefits — but it is important to understand relative risks.