The crashes of four airplanes and the massive loss of life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks traumatized people throughout the nation. Tragically, in the last 3 months of that year, fear of flying revved up car use and caused a second toll of lives on U.S. roads, a new analysis suggests.
Compared with the average number of automotive fatalities for the same months from 1996 through 2000, an additional 353 people died in car crashes in October, November, and December of 2001, says psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Surplus road fatalities following the terrorist attacks thus exceeded the 266 fatalities on the four ill-fated aircraft.
According to Gigerenzer, people tend to avoid situations for which they feel "dread risk," a fear of many deaths occurring at once. For instance, many people refuse to fly in the wake of major airplane crashes, according to Gigerenzer. Activities in which deaths pile up more slowl