Your Odds of Dying in an Airplane Crash — Revisited

A woman from Massachusetts recently won what is considered to be the second-largest jackpot in the history of lotteries in the United States. She chose to take the lump sum of approximately $336 million after taxes instead of the full $758.7 million prize spread out over 30 years.

Your Odds of Dying in an Airplane Crash — Revisited

Your odds of winning the grand prize of the Powerball lottery drawing are one in 292,201,338, according to this article I wrote on Tuesday, January 12, 2016; so I thought I would revisit what the odds are in dying in an airplane crash.

This time, I decided to use these statistics which are offered by the National Safety Council, whose mission is to “eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.”

Assuming that the odds of dying from all possible causes are 1 in 1, then the lifetime odds of death for the causes listed in the chart below — from most likely to least — are:

Heart Disease and Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 28
Intentional Self-Harm 1 in 95
Unintentional Poisoning by and Exposure to Noxious Substances 1 in 96
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 114
Fall 1 in 127
Assault by Firearm 1 in 370
Car Occupant 1 in 645
Pedestrian Incident 1 in 647
Motorcycle Rider Incident 1 in 985
Unintentional Drowning and Submersion 1 in 1,188
Exposure to Fire, Flames or Smoke 1 in 1,498
Choking from Inhalation and Ingestion of Food 1 in 3,461
Pedacyclist Incident 1 in 4,486
Firearms Discharge 1 in 6,905
Air and Space Transport Incidents 1 in 9,821
Exposure to Electric Current, Radiation, Temperature and Pressure 1 in 15,212
Exposure to Excessive Natural Heat 1 in 16,584
Contact with Sharp Objects 1 in 38,174
Contact with Heat and Hot Substances 1 in 56,992
Contact with Hornets, Wasps and Bees 1 in 63,225
Cataclysmic Storm 1 in 66,335
Being Bitten or Struck by a Dog 1 in 112,400
Legal Execution 1 in 119,012
Lightning Strike 1 in 161,856

Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics–Mortality Data, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Deaths are classified on the basis of the World Health Organization’s The International Classification of Diseases.

For additional statistics related to mortality — as well as estimated one-year and lifetime odds — see pages 40 through 43 of the Injury Facts® 2017 Edition, which costs $109.85; but the downloadable version is available free of charge to members.


That both air and space transportation incidents were bundled together into one statistic was interesting, in my opinion. This leads to the assumption that the odds of dying in an airplane crash are slightly less — although the actual difference may be too insignificant to matter.

Regardless of which numbers you prefer to believe — the ones offered in the aforementioned article or this article; and there are many more variations of them out there on the Internet — one thing is for certain: you are most likely not going to die in an airplane crash, as that chances of that happening are incredibly low.

Your chances of being involved in an automobile accident are significantly higher, however — especially if you are a passenger in a moving vehicle where the driver is texting

…which means that the odds of you being involved — or killed — in an automobile accident on your way to purchasing the lottery ticket or to the airport are substantially more likely than you winning the jackpot of the Powerball lottery drawing; and certainly far more likely than being killed in an airplane crash.

Ironically, the ex-husband of the winner of the lottery was reportedly killed last year in a hit-and-run incident caused by a pickup truck driven by a motorist who was inebriated…

Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Your Odds of Dying in an Airplane Crash — Revisited”

  1. Ryan says:

    It’s also fascinating to consider the above causes of accidental death in light of terrorism (which is exceedingly low risk) and the debate over security measures (TSA, etc.), privacy, government monitoring and conduct, etc. all in the name of anti-terrorism.

  2. Mario says:

    What? What has one thing to do with the other? You’re comparing the chance of winning the lottery in each extraction to the chance of dying in an air crash throughout your lifetime – there is nothing in common with these scenarios.

    If you wanted to compare something, you should be comparing the probability of an average person winning the lottery in their entire lifetime vs the chance of dying in an air accident.

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