2007 August 19 Sunday
Back Of Airplane Safest Place In Accidents

If rich people are so smart why do they sit in the front? Those first class seats in the front are relatively dangerous. To maximize your chance of survival sit it in the back.

The funny thing about all those expert opinions: They're not really based on hard data about actual airline accidents. A look at real-world crash stats, however, suggests that the farther back you sit, the better your odds of survival. Passengers near the tail of a plane are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows up front.

That's the conclusion of an exclusive Popular Mechanics study that examined every commercial jet crash in the United States, since 1971, that had both fatalities and survivors. The raw data from these 20 accidents has been languishing for decades in National Transportation Safety Board files, waiting to be analyzed by anyone curious enough to look and willing to do the statistical drudgework.

Want to cut your transportation death rates much further? Don't travel. This applies to both short and long trips and it also saves time. Schedule trip activities to do them in batches so that you make few trips. Take jobs closer to home or move closer to your job. Telecommute. Use teleconferencing and email rather than road trips.

On the other hand, jet air travel is very safe as compared to car travel for equal distances. As Popular Mechanics points out, there's only been 1 fatal jet crash in the United States in the last 5 years. Car travel is most hazardous with over an order of magnitude more deaths per distance traveled than trains or planes. Curiously, trains and planes have almost the same rate of passenger deaths per distance traveled.

Car travel dangers are more controllable by individuals though. You can drive a safer car as measured by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety car ratings or the US government's car safety ratings. You can also avoid driving drunk or tired, avoid heavy traffic, don't speed, avoid driving in rain and snow, and use other safe driving techniques.

Another point about air travel: Take fewer hops and fly in jets. Take-offs and landings are where most accidents happen. The new Boeing Dreamliner jet that allows airlines to offer more direct flies that avoid hubs will reduce the number of times you have to take-off and land on a trip. Well, search on flights that take fewer hops.

The Popular Mechanics article above comes from a special issue on natural disaster survival. One complaint about their special issue: They emphasize after-disaster survival. For disasters that can happen to you at home the emphasis should be on locating and building a home in such a way that it can survive most disasters. No need to start camping if your roof doesn't fly off and your house doesn't flood or burn down. However, their articles have lots of useful tips.

By Randall Parker    2007 August 19 01:01 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2006 October 25 Wednesday
New York Subway Harmful For Hearing

Think mass transit is just plain environmentally friendly? Not for your ears. Another reason why I'm glad I do not ride subways:

In a new survey of noise levels of the New York City transit system, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that exposure to noise levels in subways have the potential to exceed recommended guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the research, as little as 30 minutes of exposure to decibel levels measured in the New York City transit system per day has the potential to result in hearing loss. The findings have just been published in the September issue of the Journal of Urban Health, a publication of the New York Academy of Medicine.

"Noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss is a global health problem of significant magnitude, especially in urban settings, yet published data are extremely limited," said Robyn Gershon, DrPH, professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and lead author of the study. Dr. Gershon and co-authors report that the findings suggest that, "Daily exposure to noise on subway platforms and subway cars has the potential to cause hearing loss. At the highest level obtained on the platform (106 decibels), the allowable limit under WHO and EPA is only 30 seconds. More than 1 in 10 of the platform measurements exceeded 100 decibels -- which translates into an allowable limit of only 1.5 minutes."

They recorded even higher noise levels in the subway cars.

Subway cars could be made quieter with sound-deadening materials. Though the materials would make the cars heavier and use more fuel. But how to make subway platforms quieter? Is the noise from rails on the track? Could track in stations be made with materials that would make less noise?

If you have to subject yourself to public transportation consider getting ear plugs. They are cheap. You can also go to a gun shop and buy a muffler headset of the sort that get used on gun ranges. I bought such a headset when I worked next to a machine shop. Worked pretty well.

By Randall Parker    2006 October 25 09:13 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
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