How safe is flying a small plane, such as a Cessna 172?

I'm thinking of taking flight lessons but was wandering how safe is flying a small plane. I couldn't find any statistics on that. I know commercial aviation is the safest way of travel but what about recreational flying ?

Other answer:

larissa:
As a private pilot it is completely safe.I have been flying since 1996 mainly in Cessna 172s .Getting on a busy highway is much more dangerous.Practice and study.The main thing about flying is being able to communicate, navigate and communicate.It is a reliable,safe and very forgiving aircraft.You will be excited the day you get your license.Don' t pass up a wonderful opportunity!
Brandon:
Recreational flying is probably safer than riding a motorcycle, but not as safe as driving a car. MOST accidents in small planes are from pilot error, like running out of fuel or taking risks that a well trained commercial pilot would avoid.
flourny:
Recreational flying is probably safer than riding a motorcycle, but not as safe as driving a car. MOST accidents in small planes are from pilot error, like running out of fuel or taking risks that a well trained commercial pilot would avoid.
Tariq Hossenbux:
I have about 1000 hours in Cessna singles and it is generally a safe and fun experience to see the world from a new perspective. There are safer things to do of course, but if the airplane is well maintained and you keep up your skills by flying regularly it's improbable that any harm will come to you. Weather and strong crosswinds are two of the main enemies of planes, but if you are just renting and plan properly you should be able to steer clear of those days. Always be observant/alert and keep up your knowledge by learning and reading. There are many good books out there to help you with that. I suggest "Be a Better Pilot" – lots of good tips in there!
Hughes:
Recreational flying is probably safer than riding a motorcycle, but not as safe as driving a car. MOST accidents in small planes are from pilot error, like running out of fuel or taking risks that a well trained commercial pilot would avoid.
Jason:
According to me, just refrain (with any single engine light airplane) to fly at night. If you cannot see ground obstacles when you engine fails, how would you land safely…? Most small planes can be landed on very small surface – or with only minor damage. I operate 3 Piper L-21 (Super Cub) in banner and glider towing business – Strictly "day-VFR" operation – Same engine as the C-172 you mention . This is the 5th season we have completed, without an engine failure. One pilot, a few years ago ran "out of gas" and landed in a open field. No damage – we just had to fill a few liters of gasoline in the tanks and takeoff.
Skipper747:
I would just refrain (with any single engine light airplane) to fly at night –
If you cannot see ground obstacles when you engine fails, how would you land safely…?
Most small planes can be landed on very small surface – or with only minor damage –

I operate 3 Piper L-21 (Super Cub) in banner and glider towing business –
Strictly "day-VFR" operation – Same engine as the C-172 you mention –
This is the 5th season we have completed, without an engine failure –

One pilot, a few years ago ran "out of gas" and landed in a open field –
No damage – we just had to fill a few liters of gasoline in the tanks and takeoff –

richelle:
"How safe is flying a small plane. I couldn't find any statistics on that…"

Statistically, the accident rate is very low.

In 2005, there were 24,401,000 flight hours logged in GA aircraft with 1,669 accidents, 321 of them fatal. That translates to a 6.83% accident rate per 100,000 hours flown and a 1.31% fatality rate.

The problem with looking solely at those numbers to judge the "safety" of a light aircrft is that most GA accidents are usually caused by poor decision making by the pilot, not any mechanical issue with the aircraft itself.

The leading cause of general aviation accidents is continued flight into deteriorating weather by pilots not certified (or current) to do so. That is a choice that is made by the pilot, yet is reflects on GA accident stats as a whole. Light aircraft are no more unsafe just because pilots chose to do unsafe things with them!

If GA pilots would quit doing stupid thing with aircraft, then those rates would be even lower.

thomas:
Recreational flying is probably safer than riding a motorcycle, but not as safe as driving a car. MOST accidents in small planes are from pilot error, like running out of fuel or taking risks that a well trained commercial pilot would avoid.
John R:
It's as safe as you want to make it. Overall, general aviation does have an accident rate similar to motorcycling, but the vast majority of accidents are completely preventable.

The most common reason light planes ever end up anywhere other than an airport is running out of fuel. The most common cause of a fatal accident is attempting flight under visual flight rules when in instrument weather conditions.

If you have the common sense to not run out of gas and not flying into weather you are not trained to handle, small planes are very safe.