An article from August 2006
follows that was requested for publication. Some things have changed since that time including perhaps a reduction in kiting fatality numbers. The primary cause is still apparent today, Operator Error
, flat kites when properly preflighted, maintained and operated can offer more complete depowering in strong winds than experienced with past systems. Guys are still making poor choices, technology has improved but as always is imperfect. Things seem to be improving regardless of these considerations. Hopefully with continued rider hazard awareness, appreciation and avoidance along with improved technology fatalities and accidents in general will drop further.
How dangerous is kiteboarding? This is a fairly simple question with a variety of possible answers. LetÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s look at some accident statistics in an effort to answer this question. This information is of interest to most kiteboarders however it is far more important to know and practice the means of avoiding accidents.
Global loss statistics are hard to come by. There is a fair quantity for the USA to look over however. Three kiteboarders were lost in the USA in 2005. Using estimated rider populations in the USA (25 to 50 thousand that own kiteboarding gear), this equates to roughly 6 to 12 fatalities per 100,000 riders for 2005. This allows us to make rough subjective comparisons to other activities.
Estimated Fatality Rates In USA
Activity - (Losses per 100,000) - Source
Paragliding - 88 - 1) http://www.ushga.org/safety/PG2005
Unintentional injury deaths from all causes - 56 - 2) WISQARS http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars
Motor Vehicle Traffic injuries - 15 - 2) WISQARS http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars
Kitesurfing - 6 to 12 - 3) http://fksa.org/
SCUBA diving - 5 - 4) http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medic ... /index.asp
Pedestrian - 2 - 2) WISQARS http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars
** The range was derived from the estimated number of kiteboarders in the USA.
So, based upon these statistics, you may be more at slightly risk of suffering a fatal automobile accident in the USA than to be killed kiteboarding. Alternatively, you may be at perhaps half the risk of being killed while SCUBA diving than kiteboarding. Paragliders appear to be substantially more at risk of fatal injury. NOTE: all of these statistics are estimates to varying degrees and are derived from differing assumptions. Also, actually fatality rates per country vary substantially year to year. The statistics have been calculated from generally unconfirmed reported observations received from around the world. If new credible information is received regarding historical accidents as happens on occasion these statistics can change.
A more accurate statistical picture might be obtained with a comparison of accidents to hours kiteboarded. At present there is no available accurate estimate for the total number of hours kiteboarded in the USA.
NOTE for every kiteboarding fatality there are far more (likely many 100ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s to 1000ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s) non-lethal injuries attributable to the same causes. Many of us know of people who have been hurt practicing our sport, some quite seriously. In working to avoid severe injury through proper kiting practice riders may well avoid any injury at all. This is a major point of this article.
Some of the trends in kiteboarding fatalities worldwide (total number of 52 through July 2006), are summarized below. These statistics have been calculated from reported but generally unconfirmed observations received worldwide. All parameters are not known in all cases. Credible new information received in the future as sometimes occurs may alter some of these statistics.
1. The most experienced riders appear to put themselves at the greatest risk.
4 or more years = 42%
3 years = 23 %
2 years = 15%
up to 1 year = 17%
2. Older riders in their late 30ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s and 40ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s appear to be at highest risk. NOTE: there is NO information available regarding serious but survivable injuries which could significantly differ from this summary. That is, just because you are fairly young doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t mean you have a free ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œGet Out of JailÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚