POPULAR MECHANICS: It's Safer In the Back

Old Jul 22, 07, 2:34 pm
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POPULAR MECHANICS: It's Safer In the Back

Published on: July 18, 2007

MYTH: It Doesn't Matter Where You Sit

REALITY: It's Safer 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.

And drudgework it was. For several weeks, we poured over reports filed by NTSB crash investigators, as well as seating charts that showed where each passenger sat and whether they lived or died. We then calculated the average fore-and-aft seating position of both survivors and fatalities for each crash.

We also compared survival rates in four sections of the aircraft. Both analytical approaches clearly pointed to the same conclusion: It's safer in the back.

In 11 of the 20 crashes, rear passengers clearly fared better. Only five accidents favored those sitting forward. Three were tossups, with no particular pattern of survival. In one case, seat positions could not be determined.

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Last edited by essxjay; Jul 22, 07 at 8:48 pm Reason: Excessive copyrighted material deleted per TOS guidelines
jaymar01 is offline  
Old Jul 22, 07, 3:50 pm
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This is old data. If you include crashes since 1990, you're equally safe (or unsafe) throughout the cabin. The data is skewed due to the types of crashes seen in the 1970s and 1980s that you just don't see now days.
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Old Jul 22, 07, 4:32 pm
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I was in grammar school back then, but I still remember that man jumping in the Potomic to save that drowning woman....
spleenstomper is offline  
Old Jul 22, 07, 8:52 pm
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Please following the discussion currently underway in an earlier thread: Popular Mechanics: How to Survive a Plane Crash.

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