What Are the Dangers of Skydiving?

While skydiving results in relatively few deaths each year, those deaths are generally the result of human error and judgment. The United States Parachuting Association estimates there are 3 million jumps per year. In 2012 there were 19 deaths related to skydiving, according to the association. The numbers point to a 0.0007-percent chance of dying during a skydive versus a 0.0167-percent chance of dying in a car accident.

Generally speaking, skydiving accidents are uncommon. Those fatalities that have occurred have tapered from year to year, according to the U.S. Parachuting Association. In fact, as of 2010, there were roughly half as many skydiving-related deaths as there were in the 1970s, according to the organization.

While the government does not regulate skydiving, there are many skydiving instructors, courses and schools throughout the nation. Many of these programs involve training through tandem jumping, in which the instructor controls the jump completely from start to finish, followed by accelerated free fall training, in which two instructors hold onto the skydiver-in-training with tethers after he jumps from a plane. The latter method allows a student to experience the feeling of free falling prior to making a solo jump.

While there are no guarantees of safety in skydiving, the sport does have a relatively positive track record for safety overall.

To put the risks of skydiving in perspective, simply driving a car is 24 times more likely to result in a fatality than a single skydiving jump. BASE jumping, on the other hand, is much more dangerous. Because it involves leaping from a lower height and falling in close proximity to a building or other object, BASE jumps are approximately 43 times more likely to result in a fatality than an airplane jump.