Fear of Flying v Traffic Anxiety

One of the more obvious ways to compare the anxieties I have when dealing with dangerous drivers would be to consider how our road networks make people fearful, when compared with getting on an aircraft and experiencing fear of flying.

However, there is always one fundamental difference between the two environments. Whilst fear of flying isn’t just about being worried that the plane will crash (this appears to be the dominant factor in about half of sufferers), nobody can question the fact that flying is inherently safe.

So fear of flying is a very real fear, but it’s not one that is matched by the actual risk. There’s also nothing that any airline or plane maker could do to mitigate this risk. In 2017, the entire global airline industry managed to enable billions of journeys, and nobody at all died on any jet service as a result of their plane crashing. Even if this happened for a decade or more, there would still be a fear of the plane crashing, because these plane crashes, or indeed movies featuring them, would still be in memory.

Hence, any attempt to treat fear of flying can only ever be about treating the patient. For those who suffer from flight fear, but who are more worried about being confined in tight spaces, or about similar matters which relate to their possible behaviour when on board, the treatment is the same.

It’s true – I react very badly to dangerous driving. It’s quite possible that my anxieties are treatable, but treating this anxiety would do nothing to reduce the danger at source. Even if nobody ever felt fearful when travelling on our city streets, we’d still need to deal with this danger, because cars do actually kill 5 people per day in the UK alone.


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