English: US Airways Airbus A330-323X (N278AY), on final approach to London Heathrow Airport, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
PHILADELPHIA As the plane plummeted, Mark Pensiero said he felt his seat drop and his body press up against the seat belt. Gravity seemed to lose its grasp on the 58-year-old Burlington County man. The Orlando-bound Airbus rocked violently from side to side.
“For a couple seconds there, nobody was controlling that airplane,” he said. “It was doing what it wanted to do.”
The turbulence lasted five seconds, maybe 10, Sunday night. But six people – four passengers and two flight attendants – reported injuries, leading the captain to turn the plane back to Philadelphia, U.S. Airways said. Five people were taken to hospitals. The airline said the extent of their injuries was unknown, but appeared not to be life-threatening.
Pensiero said he saw one person taken away in a stretcher and another person, a flight attendant, wearing a neck brace.
Some good news to report about the safety of America’s highways! In 2010 32,788 people died on the nation’s highways. This is down from 43,320 deaths in 2005, which represents a 25 percent decrease in five years.
In 1949 the U.S. population was less than half of what was reported in the 2010 census. The number of miles driven rose by 20.5 billion in 2010. With more cars and people on the nation’s highways than ever before, the fatality rate per 100 million miles was 1.09 in 2010 (a record low).
A big reason for the reduction of automotive fatalities is the use of seatbelts. Nationally, seatbelt usage stands at 85 percent, which is an all time high. Along with technology like anti-lock brakes, airbags and drunken driving crackdowns, seatbelt use has made a huge impact on driver safety.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.