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.
Analyst: TSA methods ‘will kill more Americans on highway’ [Hill]