The textbook example of risk perception is flying vs driving, namely that flying is scary but safe and driving is dangerous. It's true the per mile or even per hour flight on airlines in the US is safer than driving. However, is is also true that far more people are afraid of flying? There are several reasons to believe the contrary:

Cliche: Since flying vs driving is such a well-used comparison, the message will get through to some people.

Close calls: Proportionally few people have had a close call on flying (though turbulence can feel like a close call). In driving, most people not only had close calls but have had crashes or know people who had serious car crashes.

Travel stress: Flying is very stressful (planning, security, jet lag, etc), so that can create many symptoms of fear (anxiety) or exacerbate an otherwise minor level of fear. We would like to separate the effect of fear itself from the other sources of angst.

Passive vs active: Many strategies for flying phobia (drugs, books, etc) rely on getting the mind away from the activity. This is impossible when driving.

Given all these caveats, is the fear of flying debilitating to more people than the fear of driving? "Debilitating" means how much it impacts quality of life. Taking a pill is less so than losing sleep the night before traveling, which in turn is less than not being able to fly at all.

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    Is "Fear of flying is more pervasive than fear of driving" a notable claim? Can you find notable examples of people making this claim? – ff524 Sep 27 '17 at 18:08
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    There are heaps and heaps. Here's one where it's explicitly taken for granted in the headline io9.gizmodo.com/5846218/… – user56reinstatemonica8 Sep 27 '17 at 18:43
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    I don't think you can really count "travel stress" as fear of flying. Flying itself doesn't bother me at all - I've held a pilot's license for decades, and own my own plane - but I won't fly commercial except at very great need, because I don't want to be subject to airline security or be jammed into a too-small seat on a crowded plane. – jamesqf Sep 28 '17 at 3:55
  • Pervasive is a funny word there, mass hysteria in an airplane can be pervasive, but if you are alone driving a car this doesn't apply. In general the difference between fear of flying and driving is from the lack of control (you are likely to not be the airplanes pilot but likely to be the cars driver - unless we are talking about full blown rain man phobia people who dont have to drive anything). – daniel Sep 28 '17 at 7:57
  • I think that fear is real, though not justified. People who don't understand the mechanics of lift just see a huge, huge, heavy object that should not be able to "float" in the air (which, it doesn't), so there's a certain amount of fear of unknown, or poorly understood. There's also the fact that when things do go wrong, they do so in a more spectacular fashion. Finally, there's the perception of control vs having no control, or, if you're a passenger in each case, at least being able to observe the control, in real time. – PoloHoleSet Sep 28 '17 at 15:12

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