As we’ve talked about on this blog, since ziplining is not federally regulated, there’s no one governmental body that tracks injury rates. That said, according to Robson Forensic, the ziplining injury rate is 11.64 out of a million people. Up to 3,600 injuries were reported from 1997 to 2012. Is that injury rate high? What else is riskier than ziplining?
Lots of things are more dangerous than ziplining, including:
- Riding a motorcycle
- Using an elevator
- Lighting fireworks
- Buying a snack from a vending machine
- Playing at a playground
- Mountain climbing
Wait, really? Using a vending machine poses a greater risk to your health than riding a zip line? That’s right, and we have the stats to prove it. Keep reading to learn more about why these everyday activities might not be as safe as you think. Ziplining will seem a lot more securer to you soon!
These 8 Things Are More Dangerous Than Ziplining
Ziplining and skydiving might be two sky-bound activities, but they’re not comparable in many other ways. Well, except for La Tyrolienne at France’s Val Thorens ski resort, which is the tallest zipline in the world. You exit off the platform at an astounding 820 feet up in the air, achieving an altitude of 10,600 feet. When skydiving, your exit altitude can be between 10,000 and 14,000 feet.
Most zip line courses will never achieve an altitude anywhere close to what you get when skydiving though, so it’s no surprise that it’s the far riskier sport between the two.
According to the United States Parachute Association or USPA, in 2019, 3.3 million people went skydiving. Of those people, 15 of them died, which is a death rate of roughly 1 in 220,301.
While we’d like to compare apples to apples, zip-lining death rates are even murkier than zip-lining injury stats. That’s not to say that deaths don’t happen from time to time, but we just can’t paint a full picture of how many occur from year to year.
What we do know for sure, as we’ve written about before, is that 16 ziplining deaths transpired between 2006 and 2016, which is a 10-year span.
So in one year, 15 people die skydiving compared to 16 people who have died zip-lining over 10 years. That speaks volumes about the safety of the latter sport.
Among the most dangerous things you do every single day is getting in your car and driving. It doesn’t matter if you’re running over to the corner store or taking an out-of-state trip, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA once said that there’s one car accident per minute.
USA Today published an article in 2021 on driving accident stats for the year prior. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns limited how many people were on the road at any time throughout the year 2020, car accident deaths still increased by eight percent.
This data comes courtesy of the National Safety Council, which says that 42,060 people died in a car accident in 2020. This spike in deaths is the highest in more than a decade, since 2007. That year, 43,945 vehicular fatalities were reported.
Those numbers are thousands of times higher than the number of fatal ziplining accidents we’re aware of. Whether it’s speeding, texting while driving, or driving in inclement weather, driving to the zip line course by car is a greater threat than riding the zipline itself.
Riding a Motorcycle
If the above numbers have made you think of alternate transportation options you can begin using, know that riding a motorcycle isn’t a whole heck of a lot safer. The Insurance Information Institute or III cites data from the NHTSA, which compiled motorcycle accident and fatality data between 2010 and 2019.
We’ll start with the injury data first. In 2019, the NHTSA registered 8,596,314 motorcycles and 84,000 riders were injured. For every 10,000 registered motorcycles, that’s an injury rate of 975.
Between 1997 and 2012, we know that 3,600 zipline accidents were recorded. That’s 80,400 fewer injuries from ziplining than riding a motorcycle. Plus, you can’t forget that the zipline accident stats are cumulative over 15 years while that’s only one year of motorcycle accident data.
The III says that among the same number of registered motorcyclists, 5,014 of them died in 2019 from riding a motorcycle. For every 100,000 registered motorcycles, that’s a death rate of 58.33. That’s far many more deaths than those from ziplining.
Using an Elevator
Did you know that the average elevator user rides in an elevator four times per day? That’s according to Connections Elevator, an elevator maintenance company. Every single day, elevators lift and descend people to their destinations 3.25 million times.
You would think riding in an elevator is a nice, safe experience, but there’s a reason why some people are elevator-phobic. The Electronic Library of Construction, Occupational Safety & Health or ELCOSH in conjunction with the Center for Construction Research and Training or CPWR put together elevator-related injury and fatality data as provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the US, every year, 17,000 elevator injuries will occur. Of the number of people hurt, 30 of them might sustain deadly injuries. Most of the deaths–about 14 per year–are elevator technicians. These people are closest to the elevators and can fall down the elevator shaft or get stuck between the moving elevator parts. Everyday riders can get hurt too though.
Remember, zipline injuries from 1997 to 2012 amounted to 3,600 whereas people get injured on elevators 17,000 times every year. The death rate is higher too, as 16 people have died zip-lining over 10 years while annually, 30 people die in or around an elevator.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, it’s fireworks season. If you decide to bring the fireworks fun to your yard, this can be more injurious than riding a zipline. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2019 Fireworks Annual Report states that at least 12 people died using fireworks that year.
The report elaborates that two of the deaths were due to the late ignition of fireworks and seven were because of fireworks misuse. The details of the remaining deaths were not known at the time the report was filed.
Also mentioned in the report is that in 2019, fireworks led to 10,000 injuries in the US that were serious enough to warranty care at a hospital’s emergency room. Out of 100,000 people, that’s an injury rate of 3.1.
The ziplining injury rate per million people is 11.64, which is a much lower rate. Even if the 2019 Fireworks Annual Report didn’t account for every last fireworks injury from that year (which the language in the report suggests could be the case), that’s still thousands more injuries from using fireworks.
We again have to stress that the 3,600 reported zipline injuries were over 15 years while the 10,000 fireworks injuries were in one year alone. That ought to make you rethink lighting fireworks around your home anytime soon!
Buying a Snack from the Vending Machine
When you’re hungry and hankering for a snack, you go to your office’s vending machine, right? If you attend school, the vending machines are also everywhere you look. Yet just because they’re abundant doesn’t necessarily make them safe.
You’re probably thinking “really? Vending machinesof all things are dangerous?” To that, we say yes! A 2020 Medium article repeats a statistic that you can easily find all over the Internet, that vending machines kill people four times more than sharks every year.
The Medium article attributes this stat to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although the report dates back to 1995, its data stretches nearly two decades prior to that, from 1978 onward. In that timeframe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that 113 injuries and 37 deaths occurred from vending machines. Per year, that’s 2.18 deaths.
Your chances of being fatally bitten by a shark are about one in 250 million while death risks from a vending machine are one in 112 million. Crazy, right?
Now, you’re likely wondering how vending machine deaths happen in the first place. It’s from people shaking or otherwise abusing the vending machine, which can cause it to topple over. Since the average vending machine is 636 pounds, that much weight falling atop you can definitely be deadly.
So yes, just to be clear, not only do vending machines cause more injuries than ziplines, but they’re more likely to happen than a fatal shark bite!
Playing at a Playground
Okay, this one isn’t for the adults, but there are plenty of kids that love going zip lining. Since commercial zipline companies welcome riders as young as seven years old and amateur zip lines are almost exclusively for kids, we thought we had to put the rate of zipline injuries into perspective for the kiddos as well.
You see playgrounds at every park and school, but have you ever stopped to think about how safe they are? The answer, it turns out, is not very. PTSD and brain injury resource BrainLine shared some ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation stats about playground injuries.
According to the data, every year, more than 200,000 kids will have to go to the emergency room for injuries sustained while playing at a playground. Children can die from playground equipment too, with 15 deaths occurring every year.
Most of the injuries are from falls, says BrainLine, 79 percent in all. Of all the most severe playground injuries, 90 percent are fall-related. Another 58 percent of playground injuries occur from strangulation.
Since playground injuries are in the six figures and we only have 3,600 zip line injuries reported from 1997 to 2012, you might be better off building your kids a DIY zip line than taking them to the park to play.
Mountain climbing is a popular activity that lets you enjoy breathtaking heights, sort of like ziplining. According to adventuring resource The Explorer’s Passage, up to 800 people per year will try to climb Mount Everest.
Yet even if your mountain-climbing goals aren’t quite Everest-level, that doesn’t make this activity safe. This 2020 report from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Healthstates that every year, between 3,023 and 3,816 people will hurt themselves when rock climbing.
For every 10,000 hours of climbing, that’s 5.6 injuries. Out of 1,000 climbers, the accident rate is 2.5.
Admittedly, the 3,000+ injuries rate is a lot like the number of ziplining accidents…well, that were reported in 15 years, that is. Even if we used the lower estimate of mountain-climbing injuries per year, which is 3,023, over that same amount of time, that would be 45,345 mountain climbing injuries!
Ziplining can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. That moment when you’re about to step off the platform can leave you paralyzed in fear. Yet once you take that first, all-important step and let gravity guide you down the zipline cable, you realize how exciting the experience can be.
Is ziplining the safest sport out there? No, but no sport is completely safe. Then again, zip lining is a lot less injury-prone than sports like mountain climbing and skydiving. Even everyday activities like driving your car, buying food from a vending machine, or riding in an elevator are more dangerous than ziplining.
We hope this article puts your mind at ease so you and your family can enjoy an exciting, safe zipline ride together!