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Wed, Jan 26, 2011

U.S. Parachute Association Reports Improving Safety Record

15th Annual USPA Safety Day Promotes Skydiving Safety

Skydiving continues to improve its safety record, according to new statistics released by the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).

In 2010, USPA recorded only 21 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S., indicating that the sport continues to become safer. 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 2000-2009, the average dropped again to 25.8. With 21 fatalities in 2010, the annual average continues its decline.

In 2009, the USPA recorded the fewest fatal accidents in nearly 50 years-16-out of nearly 3 million jumps made by more than 32,000 USPA members and 400,000 first-time skydivers. That's the fewest number of fatal accidents in more than four decades and a sharp contrast to the 56 skydivers who lost their lives in 1981. "Skydiving is a fast-paced, adrenaline-filled sport that carries some inherent risks," said Ed Scott, Executive Director of USPA. "But we're steadily reducing that risk-and the numbers are proving it."

The reduction in fatalities can be attributed to safer equipment, better training and the instructional staffs at more than 200 USPA-affiliated drop zones across the country. "Drop zones, instructors and safety & training advisors are constantly working to make our sport safer. With proper training, just about anyone can safely and responsibly enjoy our amazing sport," continued Scott. "As a matter of fact, the most dangerous part of skydiving is driving to the drop zone!"

With 14 fatalities, 1961-the first year records were kept-stands as the only year with fewer deaths than 2009. 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.

This year, the Safety Day will be held on March 12 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 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 will also host the 2011 National Skydiving Championships, the sport's largest and most exciting annual competition, October 26-November 5 at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, south of Phoenix.

FMI: www.uspa.org

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