As of the end of this year, the number of Americans traveling by road has increased and air travel has decreased. The irony (or perhaps more correctly the unfortunate aspect) in this is that there is a higher fatality rate associated with traveling by car. And furthermore, this year is shaping up to have been the safest for air travel.
Why Is the Number of Air Travellers Decreasing?
There are several things at play with the decrease in air travel.
1. Due to the increase in TSA scrutiny at airports, many travellers are avoiding the hassle and extended boarding time of flying and are choosing to drive instead.
2. Increased competition among airlines while driving prices down has also brought near cattle-car environments in airports and in the air. Hip hop artist Heavy D died from a blood clot in his leg that travelled up to his lungs after a long flight from Europe to California. According to Craig Harvey, chief coroner investigator: "Yes, (the flight) is the connection. He had reportedly been in London for about six weeks and had returned to LA within the preceding week or so..."
3. Perhaps of most importance, evidence is starting to emerge that exposure to radiation is of much more concern than Americans were previously led to believe.
4. Scanners are planned for other areas including trains. Next? Courthouses, football and concert venues.
The US has the least to fear from international terrorism due to it's location away from the rest of the world yet it is the only major civilized country that treats it's population accordingly.
Given the risk of an additional dose of radiation to the person on the cusp of cancer, or the percentage of people killed in auto accidents because they avoided the hassle of flying, you have to ask the question: Is it really about safety from terrorism and death prevention or is it more about selling scanners and avoiding political embarrassment?
Airport body scanners may pose cancer risk, scientists say
Scientists with the University of California at San Francisco were so worried that they wrote a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology in April raising "a number of red flags" on the scanners' safety.
"While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high," the letter said in part, adding concerns that "independent safety data do not exist" and raising the potential for further harm if a high dosage was accidentally emitted.
TSA Admits Bungling of Airport Body-Scanner Radiation Tests
The Transportation Security Administration is re-analyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results.
The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.
Death by Numbers
We're obsessed with plane crashes and bridge collapses, yet we pay little attention to the stuff that kills the rest of us.
The Science Behind Airport Body Scanners
The scanners use x-ray technology to create pictures of objects under a traveler's clothing. They are meant to detect things metal detectors can miss in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks and dangerous activity on airplanes.
Watch For Frequent Fliers, How Big a Concern Is Backscatter Body Scan Radiation? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.