What are the odds of dying in a terrorist attack?
While this type of statistic has been pondered for decades, this increasingly popular question has had a wild rise to fame over the past ten years immediately following the September 11, 2001 large scale terrorist attacks on the United States by the al-Qaeda militant group. Ever since the 9/11 attacks, a large majority of the general population, especially in the United States, has become increasingly concerned with dying in a fatal terrorist attack.
So, what are the odds?
If terrorists were able to execute one 9/11 atrocity sized attack per year in the United States, the odds of dying in a terrorist attack in any given year would be 1 in 100,000. These odds would increase to 1 in 1,300 over the entire course of your life.
These odds might cause panic and fear in the heart of the overly worried but in all actuality, they should be extremely comforting. To try to put these odds in perspective, let’s compare them to some other common fatality odds.
The odds of dying in a vehicle accident in one year are roughly 1 in 6,000. This equates to around 1 in 80 over the course of your lifetime. The odds of dying by drowning in one year are 1 in 88,000. This equates to 1 in 1,100 over the course of your lifetime.
In other words, you are over 16x more likely to experience a fatal car accident than you are to experience a fatal terrorist attack. You’re even slightly more likely to drown in your lifetime before you die due to terroristic violence. Is that going to keep you from swimming this summer?
With all of that being said, if you’re still afraid of the odds of dying in a terrorist attack let’s quickly revisit the basic assumed premise of these statistics: terrorists are able to execute one 9/11 atrocity sized attack per year. In the decade since the 9/11 attacks, the world has yet to see an act of terrorism remotely close to this large of a disaster. This means even the long shot odds in this example are extremely inflated as the basic premise of the numbers hasn’t even been remotely touched.
You can sleep safe at night, regardless of what the media says. The numbers don’t lie.