Accidents involving collisions on a ski slope often lead to severe injuries and represent a particular problem due to the great difficulty of establishing guilt. Surveys of relative accident frequency and of the type of injury incurred by victims and causers of collisions were the goals of our investigation.
Members of the Alpine Gendarmerie recorded the skiing collision accidents in Austria from 1986 to 1991 and the authors carried out the data analyses.
Serving as a further basis for computations were the micro-census results of 1989 and the yearly figures recorded for transport of persons on cable cars and ski lifts.
From 1986 to 1991 in Austria 5743 persons were injured in collision accidents on ski slopes—most of them severely. Based on the recorded events, one of 4500 skiers was involved in a collision in 1989. The relative collision frequency between 1986 and 1991 has increased by more than 60%. The victims of collisions were injured much more frequently than the causers (93% versus 25%). The main group of collision causers consists of teenaged and young adult males. While in a “normal” skiing accident the lower extremities are the leading areas of injury, collision accidents lead frequently to multiple injuries involving mainly the head. In the group of collision victims, every second child had a head injury.
The serious consequences of such collisions are understandable with a view to the kinetic energy of the moving skier. While on a long-term basis pedagogic-didactic measures have to be implemented to prevent such accidents, on a short-term basis technical and organizational measures are more important.