According to Steven Horwitz, a transportation economist from St. Lawrence University, the TSA’s intimate pat-downs — which could get you all the way to third base, if you’re lucky — will encourage some people to forgo flying for driving. Since driving is statistically much more dangerous than flying, the pat-downs will, in effect, “kill more Americans on the highway” — ironic, since their entire purpose is to keep Americans safe.
Of course, this would not be a new phenomenon. A 2005 Cornell study concluded that 1,200 traffic fatalities were attributable to the post-9/11 shift from flying to driving. The authors of the study posited that the shift happened for two reasons. The first is the same as the pat-down effect — that the inconvenience of increased air-travel-security requirements made driving more attractive. The second was that fears about the dangers of air travel convinced people to take a car — the supposedly “safer” mode of transport. Which shows that people are going to kill themselves via driving whether flying is not safe enough or too safe for its own good.