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MANY SAY AIR-TRAVEL SAFETY HAS DECLINED

About one-third of all Americans think air travel is generally less safe today then it was five years ago, according to a poll released Sunday.

The Harris Survey projected that only 14 percent of Americans believe air travel has become safer in the past half-decade. An estimated 52 percent believe there has either been no improvement or a decline in overall air safety since 1990, according to the poll.Of those asked, 83 percent said "poor maintenance" was a major concern. Louis Harris & Associates reported that a similar poll in 1979 found only 63 percent of Americans were apprehensive about aircraft maintenance.

Roughly 66 percent of poll participants said "poor ground control" undermines safety at air-ports, up from 49 percent in the 1979 survey.

However, the vast majority of those polled said driving a car is more dangerous than air travel. Only 23 percent felt flying was a greater risk than getting behind the wheel of a car. About 3 percent said driving and flying are equally dangerous.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Feb. 6-9 of 1,250 adults. the survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.