FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Skydiving continues to improve its safety record, according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA), America's skydiving authority.
In 2009, the USPA recorded the fewest fatal accidents in over 40 years - 16 - out of nearly 3 million jumps made by over 32,000 USPA members and 400,000 first-time skydivers. That's the fewest number of fatal accidents in more than four decades.
"Skydiving is never without risk," said Jay Stokes, President of USPA. "But the numbers show we are steadily reducing that risk."
In the 1970s, the sport averaged 42.5 skydiving fatalities per year. Since then the average has dropped each decade. In the 1980s the average was 34.1, in the 1990s the average was 32.3, and in the decade just closed (2000-2009), the average dropped again to 25.8.
The reduction in fatalities can be attributed to safer equipment, better training and the diligence of drop zone staff at over 200 USPA-affiliated drop zones across the country. "Much of the credit goes to the instructors, pilots, riggers, safety and training advisors and drop zone managers who work to keep skydiving as safe as possible," continued Stokes.
With 14 fatalities, 1961 - the first year records were kept - stands as the only year with fewer deaths than 2009. The USPA was considerably smaller then with just 3,353 members, and the total number of jumps was far less than today's roughly 3 million jumps. This record stands as a testament to decades of strict safety standards, training policies and programs, including a USPA Safety Day taking place every March.
USPA Safety Day will be held on Saturday, March 13, 2010, at USPA-affiliated drop zones and skydiving schools throughout the country. Established in 1997, the annual nationwide safety event focuses on making the sport safer and prepares jumpers for the year ahead through a series of skydiving seminars and training drills that serve as both a refresher course and an introduction to new developments, equipment, disciplines and training methods. At Safety Day, seasoned skydivers and rookie jumpers alike can brush up on basic skills and learn new procedures that will keep them safely soaring through the skies.
USPA encourages all of its 220 affiliated drop zones in the United States and skydivers of all experience levels to participate in this vital event that promotes skydiving safety.
For more information on Safety Day activities at a nearby drop zone, visit: http://www.uspa.org/USPAMembers/Safety/SafetyDay/tabid/79/Default.aspx
USPA Safety Day is crucial as thousands more Americans take to the skies each year, fueled by the popularity of extreme sports and skydiving as a "must-do" life experience.
USPA was awarded the 2009 General Spruance Award by the SAFE Association for USPA's outstanding contribution to safety through education.
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SOURCE United States Parachute Association