Are Boats Safer Than Airplanes & Cars? Facts & Numbers Explained

When looking at different methods of travel, there is no doubt that safety is often the first thing on our mind.

With a large portion of the population afraid or nervous when confronted with the idea of air travel, you might be wondering:

Are Boats Safer Than Airplanes And Cars?
Boats and airplanes are a lot safer than cars. There’s only a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying on an airplane and only 5-6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats.  In comparison, 18 people in 100,000 die from road accidents per year globally.

Here are all the numbers and facts you need to know about how dangerous boats are compared to airplanes and cars.

Dangers Of Traveling by Boat

Traveling by boat can encompass a couple of different types of travel. These include cruises, ferries, or personal watercraft traveling.

The safety of traveling by ship depends on what type of water travel you are doing.

Safety on the water depends on what type of water travel you are doing.

For instance, traveling on a recreational watercraft can be much more dangerous than traveling on a commercial vessel.

This is because most accidents that occur among recreational water vehicles are caused by user error, much like in car accidents.

There is also a higher number of boating accidents that involve alcohol when compared to car accidents. Alcohol use while boating, while still illegal, is less often monitored.

Commercial ships are much less likely to be involved in an accident. The safety of a commercial ship is quite comparable to that of an airplane. Much like airline pilots, commercial ship captains go through a lot of training and schooling before they become the captain of a ship.


Pros of traveling by boat can range wildly depending on the type of travel and destination.

If you are traveling on a cruise, benefits can include a wide variety of entertainment options, gorgeous sightseeing opportunities, good food that can be included, and it can be cheaper to view multiple cities and locations.

If you are traveling by ferry the pros can include the ability to take your own vehicle aboard and pack it with your luggage, less additional charges than air travel, lots of space to move around, onboard lounges, fewer security check-ins, and entertainment options.

If you are traveling by personal watercraft, your pros are often similar to that of driving. You have the ability to take as long as you need and live by your own schedule, there are fewer parking restrictions than on planes, and you can bring multiple people or pets if you choose.


One con of water travel is time. Depending on where you are going, this could be the slowest option available to you. This might not be an issue if you are on a cruise where the journey is often the destination but can matter with other forms of water travel.

You also have less flexibility with water travel because you are restricted to waterways and bodies of water. This can extend your journey and force you to go around when in other types of travel you might be able to go straight through.

Overall, the most dangerous ways to travel are by car or recreational watercraft where user error can be the main cause of accidents.

Dangers Of Traveling by Car

Inside the Smart car from drivers perspective

Driving a vehicle can be very dangerous. Not only are you relying on your driving skills but you are also relying on the driving skills of everyone else that is out on the road.

While airplane pilots and ship captains have high levels of training, most drivers go through a safety course and pass one test.

In fact, crash risk is highest during the first year a driver has their license.

The highest cause of traffic accidents is user error.

Of the three options, car crashes and other vehicular incidents are much more likely than a plane crash or sailing incident. Car crashes are less publicized, however, so it can seem like there are fewer incidents of car accidents than those on a ship or plane.

Traveling by car is the most common form of transportation. Driving is a daily activity for most people. This is because of the nature of driving and most people owning their own vehicles.

However, getting somewhere by car can be one of the most dangerous forms of travel.


One of the major pros of traveling somewhere by car is the flexibility that comes with a car. You are able to stop as much as you would like, drive at your own pace, and make any detours that you would like.

You also have the ability to pack what you would like as long as it fits in your vehicle.

You are also able to bring your pets with you who might not otherwise be welcome on a plane or ship. Even when they are it can be highly stressful for them and a large hassle to take them with you.

Another pro of traveling by car is that it can be cheaper than the other forms of travel. This can depend on how far you are going, how many people you are traveling with, and what type of vehicle you own.

In addition to flexibility, you also have more independence with a car. When you arrive at your destination, you are able to continue to use your vehicle for traveling around your destination.

Often when traveling by boat or plane, unless you choose to rent a car, you will likely be relying on a taxi, bus service, or walking to explore your surroundings after your arrival.

This can also include the trip from the airport or harbor.


One of the biggest cons that come with driving your vehicle is time. Traveling long distances in a car can take days that would only take hours in a plane.

You also cannot travel over the ocean in your car, which you can do on both a plane and a ship.

Inclement weather is also sometimes harder to manage in a car. Snowstorms can change driving conditions and cause them to be more dangerous as well as making the journey take longer.

Another issue that comes with driving would be to not know exactly how much it will cost you.

While driving you might not be sure how much gas you will use or what the gas prices will be in different areas, as these can change drastically from place to place.

You will also have to account for any lodging required to break up long distances and any meals purchased while stopping.

With a plane or a ship, all the costs should be apparent upfront.


Dangers Of Traveling by Airplane

Airplanes are the safest method of transportation today.

It can feel like air accidents happen more often than other types of travel methods because when they do happen they are prominently featured in the news. This does not mean they happen often and it doesn’t mean that air travel is unsafe.

You have only a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying in an air travel incident.

This includes private flights or air taxis.

Traveling by plane is one of the safest and fastest ways to travel. Even though traveling by plane is not completely fail-proof air travel becomes safer every year.

The air travel industry takes any and all accidents and uses them as a learning opportunity to make all subsequent flights even safer.


The biggest pro of flying over all other sorts of travel is how much time you will save. Unless you are flying somewhere close, you are likely to shave hours off your travel time if you fly.

If you only plan to travel to the next state your time will be comparable since you have to arrive at the airport early. There is also the possibility of layovers that can increase your travel time as well.

Air travel is also convenient. They handle getting you and your bags from one destination to the next from the moment you step into the airport. You do not have to worry about driving, traffic, directions, or other issues that can arise while driving.

Air travel can also get you anywhere in the world, whereas cars are limited to roadways and ships are limited to the sea and other water passages.


The biggest con of air travel is the cost. Air travel can be highly expensive and the more people you travel with the higher these costs can get.

This is the opposite of a car, where travel costs can actually go down if they are split amongst travelers since you are not paying per person like you would with a plane.

However, fuel in a car can be expensive as well so the distance traveled can have a big impact on cost.

Another large con of air travel is the airport. You often have to arrive at the airport a few hours early, wait in long lines, and go through increasingly tight security systems.

Another con of air travel is the potential for lost luggage. In addition to losing your luggage, you are also limited to what and how much you are able to bring onto an airplane due to space and weight constraints.



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