Risk

There is much more bad news than good news. Plane crashes, rail crashes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wars, terrorist attacks, crime... Three hundred people dying at once makes a good news story which can dominate the news for days, and people might think for all the news coverage that these incidents are very frequent, criminals are out to kill us for the few pounds in our pocket, and death from these cause is likely.

BUT THEY ARE WRONG!

Analysis of risk shows that most people die of old age, or age related medical conditions. Many people think that driving a car is less risky than a train journey, perhaps because in a car, they are in control. A passenger on a train is not in control – the driver is. Despite this, death on the railways is less probably than death in a car, proportionately. Accidents on public transport make people so scared that large inquiries have to be held to find the cause, following which safety measure are implemented to make a similar accident less likely or impossible.

The following table shows the relative risk of death from many causes. Of all the causes of death, the biggest man made cause is due to the car, and air travel is a long way down the list.

Average Yearly Deaths for |a Population of 300 Million

Cause of death

Number of Deaths

One 1000 MW nuclear reactor

0.6 -10

One 1000 MW coal fired power plant

2 – 25

Lightning

200

Medical X – Rays

1000

Electrocution

2000

Air Travel

3000

Drowning

9000

Fires and hot substances

10000

Falls

30000

Motor Vehicles

90000

Total Number of Deaths due to all causes

3000000

Notice especially the tiny number of death due to nuclear power. Why do people think it is so dangerous? May they are scared only of the word nuclear, or they associate nuclear power with nuclear bombs, but nuclear power itself is extremely safe.