Have a nice day(on h20 too)

by m2u 3 Replies latest jw friends

  • m2u

    Just popping in to post this and check out seven of nine and claudias
    pic's again while frenchy's not looking.

    What Danger Awaits
    the Weary Traveler?
    The hordes of Tilley hatted ecotourists have not always been with us. In 1955 there were only 46 million people traveling from one country to another. Most of them were well-heeled folks "doing the continent" or "taking the sun." Ten years later there were 144 million and today there are half a billion. That's a lot of Samsonite. It also means you read a lot more about misfortune, illnesses and death. These travelers cleaned out their wallets to the tune of $315 billion. So what do those half a billion people worry about when they travel? A survey of vacationers in Europe came up with the following:

    What me Worry? Percent
    Burglary of home while away 90%
    Illness and accidents on holiday 40%
    Family's safety 33%
    Bad Accommodation 26%
    Bad Weather 19%
    Bad Food 18%
    Work 6%

    Americans tend to be a little diffident about the goings-on in other countries. Very few Americans list their own home towns as potentially dangerous places. You may be surprised to learn places Europeans regard as dangerous.

    Europeans' most dangerous places Percent
    Florida 42%
    North Africa 9%
    Turkey 7%
    California 7%
    Kenya 7%

    By the very definition of travel, you will be forced to choose some form of transportation. Planes are the safest means; cars are the most dangerous. In America, the death rate per miles traveled is comforting for those who fly but unsettling for the majority of people who like to drive:

    Type of
    Transport Death Rate
    (per billion
    passenger miles) Passenger Miles
    (in billions)
    Passenger Cars .89 2393.2
    Intercity Buses .03 23.7
    Transit Buses .01 20.6
    Trains .02 13.5
    Airplanes .01 354.3

    Expect danger every time you decide to get into a taxi; but expect death in a small minivan. You may prefer to travel by bus, cab, rickshaw, trishaw, becek or even rollerblades. These are official U.S. statistics-numbers that reflect one of the safest transportation systems in the world. But what about the more typical forms of transportation adventurers will be forced to use?

    Imagine what happens when your body decelerates from 60-0 m.p.h. in two milliseconds. Now imagine a forest of rusty seat backs and a plate glass window in your way. Not pretty. Having been at the site of many bus crashes in my travels, I can best compare the scenes to putting a dozen mice in a coffee can along with glass and nails, slamming it against a wall and then shaking it for a few minutes more. Then spray the bloody contents across the path of oncoming traffic. That pretty much sums up the bloody and confused scene of a matatu accident.

    The most dangerous form of travel in the world is the fabled minibus. These Third World creations are small Japanese-made transports with a drivetrain that was originally designed to haul a family of four, but ingenuity and greed prevails, and some will pack up to 16 passengers in one minibus.

    The minibuses are used primarily for rush hour transportation of poor people to work. Unlike the large, regulated buses, minibuses are run by entrepreneurs who make their money by carrying as many people, as many times as they can. For example, in South Africa 60,000 accidents involving minibuses kill more than 900 people every year. In Peru, where they are called "killer combis," the death toll also includes nonpassengers trying to get out of the way of the weaving, speeding vans. The deadly driving style is a result of drivers who must make their money within the two hours of rush hour in order to make a profit on their rental owner's charge. Last year, 375 pedestrians were killed by the 30,000 or so minivans in Lima, Peru. The numbers are not available for most Third World countries. A rough estimate puts the chances of a fatality in a minibus, matatu or combi at about 30 times the normal U.S. accident rate. So the next time you plunk down between a quarter to fifty cents for one of these rides, consider how much you just sold your life for.

    There is a reason for the multitude of religious symbols, slogans and prayers painted on Third World buses. Once they cram their doors shut and the wobbly wheels start forward, your life is in the hands of a supreme being. If you travel via small buses, remember the following:
    Don't travel at night. Most Third World minibuses make New York taxis seem tame.

    Avoid mountainous areas and/or winter conditions. Fly if necessary.

    Bring water and food with you, plan for the unexpected, delays and diversions.

    Ask whether the route goes through areas frequented by bandits or terrorist groups. You may be surprised to find out who controls the countryside.

    Sit near an exit or on top. At least make sure you are near an open window. Follow the DP rule: Be friends with everyone, your seat mate might be a rebel commander.

    There is a reason why you paid 83ยข to travel. You don't buy a lot of brake pads and clutches with that pocket change.

    Remember your rooftop luggage is prey for rummagers, slashers and thieves. Put your luggage in a standard trash bag, a canvas duffle or under everyone else's.

    Shirt slashers wait for you to doze off and slip out your money pouches. Put your money in your shoes if necessary.

    Our esteemed founder was reputed to have once lost a libel case wherein he described a particular cab company as the biggest crooks in Italy. The cab company easily won the case because they proved, not that they were innocent, but that there were bigger criminal operations in Italy at the time.

    When you get into a taxi driven by a stranger in a strange land, watch out. The odds for damage to your body, your sense of well being and your wallet sky rockets. Cabs in most countries have no seatbelts, no brakes, no license and no fare limits. In many countries such as Colombia, you may even get robbed in the bargain. Taxis can be controlled by telling the driver to drive slowly in his native language. I remember a friend of mine during one particularly terrifying cab ride, rummaging through his Greek phrase book yelling what he thought meant "slower" at the top of his lungs. As the driver divided his time between staring at us incredulously and trying to maintain control of his over-revved cab, we thought we were in the hands of a lunatic. At the end of our ride, the wide-eyed cab-driver was visibly relieved to see the last of us. Upon closer examination, we realized in our haste to translate, we had been requesting him to drive "faster, faster." To be fair, I also had a cab driver in Malaysia carry around stacks of expensive luggage well beyond any chance of recovery all day long for less than $20. Based on courtesy, cleanliness, knowledge and respect for human life, the world's best cab drivers are in London and the world's worst cabbies are in New York City.

    Choose your cab rather than let them choose you.

    Never get into a taxi with another passenger already inside.

    Do not take gypsy cabs; ask the airline people how much it should cost to go to your city and then agree upon a fare before you get in.

    Keep your luggage in the back seat, not in the trunk.

    Memorize the local words for "no," "yes," "stop here" and "how much?"

    Have the hotel doorman or guide negotiate cab fares in advance.

    It is a global law that cabbies never carry change. Ask if the driver has change before you hand him a big bill.

    Many cabbies will rent themselves out for flat fees. Do not be afraid to negotiate the services of a trusted cabby as guide, chauffeur and protector of baggage.

    Do not tell cabbies where you are going, when you are leaving or any other particulars that could be of interest to bad people.

    International accident rates for travel are clouded by lack of reporting by the large numbers of people who die in vehicle related accidents and don't have the courtesy to fill out the paperwork after they are dead. Countries like Mexico, Pakistan, Australia, India, Egypt and China have horrendous accident rates but do not figure prominently in studies. Countries like Afghanistan, Zaire, Sierra Leone and Liberia wish they had enough cars or roads to have accidents. Obviously, in the U.S., travel "down South" behind the wheel of a car can be nasty business. Here's what it's like outside the country:

    International Vehicular Deaths
    (per 100,000 population)
    India 34.6
    South Korea 30.4
    Portugal 28.1
    Brazil 22.7
    Hungary 22.7
    Greece 22.0
    Venezuela 20.7
    Spain 20.5
    Ecuador 20.0
    New Zealand 19.5
    Luxembourg 19.4
    Poland 19.2
    Belgium 18.4
    United States 18.4
    Sources: various, not all countries are included

    How to get killed driving
    If you have a death wish, find a 16-year-old to drive you around: Sixteen-year-olds are the most dangerous drivers in America, being involved in 1200 deadly accidents last year. But more driving-related fatalities involve the use of alcohol. A study by Ford Motor Company revealed that secondary roads have an accident rate nearly twice as high and a fatality rate more than double that of interstate highways. A nationwide organization of 25,000 sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and municipal, state and federal law enforcement officers were polled to find out what causes accidents:

    Causes of Vehicular Accident
    Alcohol/Drugs influenced 90%
    Speeding 83%
    Running red traffic lights 78%
    Not concentrating on driving 76%
    Aggressive driving 68%
    Tailgating 63%
    Source: National Sheriff's Association

    What are the chances you will be killed while driving or being driven overseas? The number of tourist deaths are insignificant compared to domestic death rates. The average death toll for Americans involved in traffic related accidents outside the U.S is 750 (with 25,000 injured in foreign accidents). If you compare that to the 42,000 who buy it stateside, it really isn't that a big deal. To give you an idea of the relative danger rates for those countries who bother to keep tabs on their vehicular carnage, we compare the higher U.S. rate with European regions. This time road deaths based on distance driven instead of population.

    Deaths per 100 million kilometers driven
    Egypt 43.2 Bahrain 3.2
    Kenya 36.0 New Zealand 2.2
    South Korea 29.0 Israel 2.2
    Turkey 22.0 Taiwan 2.0
    Morocco 21.0 France 2.0
    Yemen 12.4 Germany 1.9
    Austria 10.7 Japan 1.7
    South Africa 10.4 Switzerland 1.6
    Bulgaria 9.9 Ireland 1.5
    Portugal 9.0 Denmark 1.5
    Hungary 8.0 Finland 1.4
    Macedonia 7.8 Thailand 1.3
    Poland 6.3 Netherlands 1.3
    Czech Republic 5.9 Norway 1.2
    Spain 5.9 United States 1.1
    Hong Kong 4.8 Sweden 1.1
    Belgium 3.3 United Kingdom 1.0
    Source: IRF, NSC, ASIRT, Others (various years)

    The general rules of common sense apply in every country in the world. One strange danger is pedestrians who look the wrong way when they cross the street after disembarking the plane in London or other left-hand drive countries. If there is one general rule that can help save your life, it is to avoid driving or traveling by road at night. The night reduces visibility and is also the witching hour for drunks.

    There is little to be said that hasn't been said in every driver's education class. Speed, booze, bad roads, and other drivers kill. Driving in the Third World is not safe, so if possible check out the local Hertz Rent-A-Yak.
    Be familiar with local road warning signs and laws. For example, in Borneo there are signs telling you to stick to the left or right of the road to choreograph the intentions of oncoming logging trucks. In Europe, unless a road sign says otherwise, traffic to your right at any intersection has priority. In countries like Mexico you are considered at fault in any accident and will be hauled off to jail while your co-crashee staggers back to the cantina to finish his drink.

    Avoid driving yourself if possible. Nobody gets up in the morning and plans on having an accident. The fact that you are rubbernecking or checking maps while on the wrong side of the road dramatically increases your chances of an accident. Flying is safer than driving.

    Avoid driving in inclement weather conditions, night time or especially on weekends. Fog kills, rain kills, drunks kill, other tourists kill. It is estimated that after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights in rural America, three out of five drivers on the road have been drinking. That means if you are one of the sober ones, pray that the other sober driver is coming the other way.

    Stay off the road in high-risk countries. You may think the Italians, Portuguese and Spaniards display amazing bravado as they skid around winding mountain roads. The accident rate says they are just lousy drivers.

    Reduce your speed. To see the difference in impact at various speeds, try running as fast as you can into the nearest wall. Now walk slowly and do it again. See how much better that is?

    Wear a seat belt, rent bigger cars, drive during daylight, use freeways, carry a map and a good road guide, etc. You're not listening are you?

    If you can hire a driver with car, do so. Contact tour companies, embassy staff and hotel concierges. Many countries provide a driver when you rent a car, so make sure you feel comfortable with him. Try a one-day city tour first to see if the chemistry and his driving skills are to your tastes.

    Don't drive tired or while suffering from jet lag. Don't pull off to the side of the road to nap, don't leave possessions in plain sight, and try to park in lighted areas. I can see you're not listening, so just do whatever the hell you are going to do, but don't say I didn't warn you.

    Row, Row, Row Your Boat may have a completely new meaning for you after you read this section. "Ro-Ro" is also short for "roll-on, roll-off" ferries that ply the frigid northern waters between Scandinavia, Russia, Europe and Great Britain. Ro-ros can also be found in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and the Greek Isles and anywhere else cars are required to get to an island quickly and efficiently. There are about 2000 of these ferries worldwide. Since cars must drive through the ship's bow and then out the aft, the hulls feature large doors that yawn open. No problem when you are tied to a dock, but when heavy seas start pounding and water enters the ship, these mammoth vessels will flip like a waterlogged rubber ducky. The chances of anyone finding a lifeboat or even getting outside to jump overboard are slim to none. For example, 900 people perished in the Estonia disaster, The Herald of Free Enterprise sank in the English Channel killing 193. Not a trend but a warning. Since then maritime safety officials have demanded that bulkheads be installed to act as a second line of defense. Open deck ferries are safer since they allow water to run off.

    Ferries in places like Bangladesh, Haiti, The Philippines and Hong Kong have had major disasters from capsizing due to overloading and collision. In roughly an eight-year period, there were more than 360 ferry boat accidents killing 11,350 people.

    Those that fancy the life of Joseph Conrad should know that piracy is a major problem in Southeast Asia. There have been between 1000 and 1500 acts of piracy in the last ten years with an average of around 40 incidents a year. The vast majority are attacks against unarmed merchant vessels with ferries and private craft being the small minority. Most pirates are armed with submachine guns and use small speedboats to jump the slow moving vessels. They then commandeer the craft to a safe harbor where they unload the tons of cargo. The losses from piracy in the Pacific amount to over $100 million a year.

    Cruise ships are much safer with the occasional engine room fire and food poisoning problem. However it doesn't provide much comfort to know that the Achille Lauro, (site of the terrorist takeover that ended in the execution of a wheelchair bound American Leon Klinghoffer), sank off the coast of Africa but is now being dredged up and refurbished for use as a luxury cruise liner.

    It is hard to provide general safety tips considering the wide range of waterborne craft travelers can take. Large cruise ships have very different safety problems when compared to pirogues. Here is a starting list.
    Know how to swim, or at least how to float. Panic kills.

    Wear or have quick access to a life preserver. Don't assume that the large chest labelled "Life Preservers" actually has usable life preservers in it. Look.

    Do not take overcrowded boats. Charter your own or ask when the boat will be less crowded. Overcrowding and rough seas are the number one reason for sinking of small and medium sized ships.

    Avoid travel in rough weather, during monsoon or hurricane season.

    Stay off the water in areas frequented by pirates. This is typically the strait of Malacca and the coastal areas of the Philippines, Thailand and Southern China.

    In cold weather remember where the covered life rafts are. Understand the effects and prevention of hypothermia.

    On large ships pay attention to safety and lifeboat briefings and practice going from your cabin to the lifeboat station with your eyes closed.

    Keep a small carry-on or backpack with your money, papers and minor survival gear (water, energy bars, hat, compass and map). Make it waterproof and a potential life preserver by using one or two garbage bags as a liner.

    Prepare and bring items to prevent seasickness, sunburn, glare and chapped skin.

    Bring binoculars, books, coastal maps, pens and a journal to pass away the time.

    North America is the safest place to fly. But that virtually implies that flying is generally dangerous. It isn't. Only 1187 people died in plane crashes in 1996. It is even more telling that among the top ten aircraft disasters most of them occurred when the planes were shot or blown out of the skies or while taxiing on the ground. So view any statistical journey into aircraft danger as proof of the relative safety of this modern marvel. One British study shows that flying is 176 times safer than walking, 15 times safer than car travel and 300 times safer than riding a motorcycle. Statistically if you were to take a flight every morning you would have to fly for 21,000 years before you would have a deadly crash. Australia has not had a fatal crash in 10 years. There are 12,000 (some say 9000) airliners in the sky making over 15 million flights carrying 1.3 billion passengers. With all that activity, there are only about 40 accidents involving major airlines (including cargo planes) every year. Still, the volume of air traffic and emerging travel boom in Asia has prompted Boeing to say that there will be a major air crash every week by the year 2010. A dramatic statement, but that still only means 12 more accidents a year at a time when there will be twice as many airliners in operation.

    First World Roulette
    If you fly any First World airline, your chances of being killed in a crash are one in 4.4 million, according to MIT. If you are on a U.S. carrier, flying coast to coast, the odds are even better, one in 11 million. About two-thirds of major airline crashes have been blamed on flight crew error. When you change from a big bird to a puddle-jumper you have just increased your chances of crashing by a factor of four. Commuter flights (flights with 30 or fewer seats) carry about 12 percent of all passengers. These small planes not only fly lower, take off and land more often, but are piloted by less experienced, more overworked pilots and are not subject to the same safety standards as large airliners.

    Get on a smaller private plane or a charter and the odds multiply again. About 700 people die in small plane crashes each year in America. There are so many crashes that the small airplane industry has evaporated because of the resultant litigation. There are 650,000 private pilots in the U.S. and only 700 out of the 13,000 airfields have control towers. The accident rate for a small plane is about 11 for every 100,000 aircraft hours compared to 0.8 for commercial jets. There are two fatalities for every 100,000 hours of operation for small planes.

    OK, that's the good news. Now I'll give you the bad news. Last year was the deadliest ever for deaths due to plane crashes. Well, that is if you eliminate the mileage covered by the typical plane flight and just look at the statistics by trip. Then cars are 12 times safer than airplanes. Want more? Well, maybe you should be sweating on take off and landing since 68 percent of accidents happen during the 6 percent of time spent getting off and back on terra firma.

    Dangerous Trips
    Things look a little different when you eliminate the miles covered and focus on the accident rate based on the number of man-hours exposed to a form of transportation.

    Motorcycle 300
    Bicycle 60
    Walking 20
    Automobile 15
    Airplane 15
    Bus 6.6
    Train 4.8
    Bus .1
    Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

    Third World Roulette
    You do need to know that 75 percent of air accidents happen in countries that account for only 12 percent of world air traffic. Also they happen in countries where travel by car is much more dangerous. Even U.S. puddle-jumpers are as safe as houses compared to Third World airlines. If you are flying anywhere in Africa, the chances of crashing are multiplied by 20-about the same odds as getting killed in an automobile accident in the States. Some experts calculate the odds of being killed in a plane crash are less than one in a million for North America, Canada and Western Europe versus one in 50,000 for the dark continent.

    Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe follow Africa as the most dangerous areas of the world. Some number crunchers say that Eastern Europe has the highest accident rate in the world to fly. Not surprising considering that poorer countries fly old aircraft usually purchased from major carriers who have already wrung every useful mile from their abused frames. In the U.S. the fatality rate can be expressed as 0.5 for every million miles flown, in Russia it is ten times higher (5.2) and twenty times higher in China (10).

    Fatal Accidents per Hundred Thousand Flights
    Africa 21
    Asia 13
    South America 8
    Central America 8
    Europe 5
    North America 2
    Caribbean 2
    Source: Flight Safety Foundation

    The most dangerous places to fly are on local carriers in China, North, Korea, Colombia, all countries in Central Africa and all countries in the CIS. In Nigeria, they had to ground all their planes when they found that one of the maintenance crews had stolen an important navigational computer. It is wise to avoid all flights inside India and throughout the Andes. But faced with taking a clapped-out bus over rugged mountains, most people choose clapped-out airplanes. China has the world's worst air piracy record, and Russian flight crews are known to accept bribes to overload planes with extra passengers, baggage and cargo.

    Russian Roulette
    If you consider that the space station MIR is the pinnacle of Russian aviation technology then the only safe thing about flying in Russia is that it's safe to be afraid. The U.S. State Department has instructed government employees to avoid using all Russian airlines unless absolutely necessary. Britain, Canada and other nations have issued similar warnings. The International Airline Passengers Association issued an unprecedented warning that flying anywhere in the former Soviet Union is unsafe. It's said that if the flight doesn't nail you, the food will. DP flew to Lake Baikal in Siberia where the passenger exit of a Tupelov had to be sealed with gaffer's tape before takeoff. We were on a commandeered military cargo flight and the only reason they taped the door shut was to make sure the door wouldn't fly open and suck the cargo out. Thoughtful touch. It's a good thing it was our gaffer's tape.

    There are about 15,000 aircraft (major and minor) operating in Russia at any one time, most of them ready to be turned into frying pans. What's flying like in the CIS? Russian airports make inner city bus stations seem like Taj Mahals. Traffic controllers would have a hard time refereeing a volleyball game and the only time businessmen pick up stewardesses is when they fall over from drinking too much. Russian passengers think safety demonstrations are Macarena lessons and the only thing that falls down from the overhead panel during decompression will be your luggage.

    Some sources put the odds of dying in a Russian crash at seven times the global average. Based on miles flown, ten times as many passengers died in Russian crashes than U.S. crashes. In one 18-month period, there were more than a dozen air crashes in the former Soviet Union, involving both commercial and military aircraft, killing more than 500 people. There are a number reasons to be afraid. Russia has a lot of nasty weather, bad runways, tough terrain, funky engines and slapped together aircraft. Safety inspectors make about $100 a month, making it easier to bribe them to keep the planes flying than actually doing the necessary maintenance work.

    Before the Soviet breakup in 1991, Aeroflot was the largest airline in the world with more than 4000 planes. Carrying more than 100 million passengers annually, it maintained a safety record in line with the international average. Now the CIS has more than 300 separate carriers. To give you a taste of just how fun flying in Russia is, an Airbus A-310 crashed, killing all 75 people on board-apparently while the pilot was giving an impromptu flight lesson to his teenage son.

    Things are looking up in Russia. Although almost half the Russian fleet was put into service during the Cold War, they are replacing their aircraft at the rate of about 150-300 a year. In many cases they are buying American. When Aeroflot looked to replace some creaky Tupolev 134's they bought Boeing 737's instead of a cheaper Russian repalcement. They even ordered Pratt & Whitney engines on a new score of Ilyushin-96's.

    Colombian Roulette
    In 1996, more than 550 people died in plane crashes in Latin America. In one crash, off the coast of the Dominican Republic, sharks beat the rescuers to the scene. Colombia has the worst air-safety record in the Americas, according to the International Airline Passengers Association, a consumer group based in Dallas. Citing aircraft accident rates, India and Colombia were declared the two most dangerous countries to fly in.

    After deregulation in Colombia in 1990, the number of passenger and cargo airlines serving El Dorado Airport in Bogota surged from 24, three years ago, to 68 today. In the same four years, the volume of international passengers arriving in Colombia jumped by 55 percent. Last year El Dorado handled 170,000 takeoffs and landings. By comparison, Gatwick Airport in London registered 180,000 takeoffs and landings in 1992.

    Chinese Roulette
    There are about 40 different airlines flying in China. China is a leading contender for the title of the most dangerous place in the world to fly. The Flight Safety Foundation says that China accounts for 16 percent of all global flights but 70 percent of all accidents.

    China's biggest problem is a shortage of pilots. Passenger air travel is expected to grow 20 percent annually until the year 2000. To keep up with demand, the country needs 600 new pilots a year. But China can only turn out less than half that number. Once a pilot is on the job, the workload is excruciating. Although Chinese regulations set the limit at 100 hours of flight time a month to avoid pilot fatigue, pilots average 280 hours. China's airspace is controlled by the military and civilian airlines must request use of it; then they are allotted narrow air corridors. There is a severe shortage of radar and ground equipment. Some parts of the country have no IFR controls, meaning that flying can be done only in good weather. In January of '97 the Chinese government said that the government owned airlines had flown 29 months without an accident.

    Airlines on the DP "Thanks, I'll think I'll walk" list are Air Afrique, Nigerian Airways, Cubana, Indian Airlines, Garuda, Aeroflot and any airline that has a laughing goat as a logo.

    Despite all the unnerving statistics, if you have a choice of transportation when traveling long distances, jump on a plane. This applies even in Russia, China or South America. Yes, it is dangerous but not as dangerous as enduring the kaleidoscope of misery and misfortune that awaits you on the ground.
    Stick to U.S.-based carriers with good safety records.

    Fly between major airports on nonstop flights.

    Avoid bad weather or flying at night.

    You can sit in the back if you want (the rear 10 rows are usually intact in case of ground impact but the passengers are dead) or above the wing (you may get thrown clear, seat and all) or near an exit (easier egress in case of fire or emergency landing) might be just as advisable.

    Avoid small charter aircraft, dirt strips and non-instrument fields.

    The smaller the plane the higher the risk. The poorer the country, same deal except when foreign carriers operate airplanes in Third World countries.

    Avoid national carriers that are not allowed to fly into the United States.

    Avoid military cargo flights, tagging along on combat missions, or flying over active combat or insurgence areas like Tajikistan and Afghanistan. (You paid $19.95 to be told this!)

    Avoid older Soviet or Chinese-made aircraft or helicopters.

    Kroll puts out a monthly Airport and Airline Watch with enough hair-raising tales of smoke filled cabins, blown tires, near misses and hijackings to keep you glued firmly to the ground. $195 per year (703) 319-8050.

    After all this, remember that travel by airliner is the safest method of transportation and that your odds of surviving a plane crash are about 50 percent.

    If you are still terrified, remember you can buy flight insurance at 150 airports around the U.S. You can get half a million dollars of insurance for $16.65 or you can spend the same amount on four stiff drinks. We recommend the former, but usually end up doing the latter.

    Trains are supposed to be safe. After all they run on rails, are usually pointed in one direction and rumored to be immune to the inclement weather that dogs airplanes, buses and cars. There's a joke that conductors like to tell:"What is the last thing a bug sees when it hits the windshield of a train?" The answer: Its asshole. What that means is when trains do hit, they hit hard.

    Trains tend to run into substantial objects like trucks stalled on crossings or other trains coming the other way. The fact that trains have limited mobility make them ideal targets for terrorists and bandits. Criminals enjoy the opportunities trains afford, as sleeping passengers present easy targets and a clean escape is available at the next rest stop.

    Using the death rate per million miles as a guide, American trains are about twice as dangerous as flying, four times safer than driving and a lot safer than local buses. If they have a bar car you can quickly douse your fears as you watch the war-ravaged countryside zip by.

    Ask locals whether the train is a target for bandits (this is appropriate in Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia or Africa where terrorists, bandits and insurgents regularly target trains).

    Beware of Eastern European train routes where thieves are known to ride as passengers. Sleep with the window cracked open to avoid being gassed.

    Stash your valuables in secret spots making it more difficult for robbers to locate your belongings.

    The back of the train is traditionally the safest area in the event of a collision. Unless, of course, your train is rear ended.

    Keep your luggage with you at all times if possible. Be nice to the conductor and he will keep an eye out for you.

    Trains are preferable to buses or cars when traveling through mountainous areas, deserts and jungles.

    Natural Disasters
    Have a nice day. Spoken like a true Californian. Out here we have earthquakes, mudslides, fires, drought and flood. And that's just the attractions at Universal Studios theme park. The reality is that about 11,000 people die worldwide from natural disasters. For example, in 1996 there were 600 major natural disasters. In one year there were 200 storms, 170 floods, 50 earthquakes, 30 volcanic eruptions and 150 landslides and forest fires. The bad news is that natural disasters are up 400 percent from three decades ago

    An average 400 people are hit by lightning (about 90 die) every year in the U.S. The solution? Minimize contact with the ground and get down real low. Don't lie down. The most dangerous place to get hit by lightning according to the National Climactic Data Center are open fields and ball fields.

  • Simon

    Thanks m2u - very interesting.
    There's a site that will work out the probability of you crashing on a specific site based on the route, airline etc... at http://www.amigoingdown.com - it's either reassuring or terrifying depending on your trip !
    BTW: Aren't humans optimistic? People think they'll win the lottery with odd of 10 million to one but don't think they will be the million to one person in a crash...

  • waiting

    Thanks, m2u,

    Good thing I like my garden. Of course - things happen at home also, right?

    Hope your next school session is as big as success as your last semester!


  • mommy

    If anyone needs to contact me......
    I'll be home under the covers:)

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