When we head off with our families for an enjoyable weekend on the slopes, most of us assume that there must be safety standards and practices that all the resorts consistently utilize and are held to by government, their insurers, an independent certifying agency or their industry. Unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect !
There are no statutes, regulations, established standards or independent oversight of safety on resort slopes and trails (see How Safe Are California Ski Resorts?)
The risk of death during an hour on a ski slope in California is at least five times greater than during an hour behind the wheel of an automobile. The risk of injury is at least 15 times greater (comparative risk analysis).
The snowsport industry and its resorts talk a lot about safety—but only your responsibility for your own safety. They do not talk about or acknowledge any resort role or responsibility in preventing accidents and reducing the severity of injuries.
There is documented (California Mountain Resort Safety Report) significant inadequacy, variability and inconsistency between and within resorts in their use of known available accident prevention and injury reductions methods and materials.
There is wide variability in terrain difficulty from resort to resort. Terrain difficulty ratings (blue, green, black diamond etc) are not standardized and are established independently by each resort.
Independent of your own physical fitness, skill, equipment and personal behaviors, there is likely significant undisclosed variability in the risk of death and injury from resort to resort.
As proven in other industries with significant risk of death and injuries (e.g. health care, automotive, aviation) the frequency and variability in the number as well as severity of injuries can be substantially reduced by compliance with detailed documented safety plans and standards.
The resorts do not want you to know the variable risk from resort to resort. They refuse to disclose their safety plans and accident / injury statistics or make them available to government or public safety organizations.
You do not and cannot consider safety in your choice of resorts because there is no information available and the resorts do not want you to have it.
As has occurred in automotive, aviation and healthcare, the public availability of comparative resort safety information and statistics will result in steady safety improvement at ski resorts.