There's no really easy answer to this question. You can definitely take a look at general statistics. AOPA's Air Safety Foundation puts out good information. (First link below.) Most readable among that information is probably the yearly Nall Report. (Second link below.) One of the nice things about learning to fly is that, as the pilot, you have a very high level of control over how safe your flying is. In a car, no matter how well you drive, you can only do so much to prevent others from involving you in an accident. Very few recreational aviation accidents are caused by people outside the plane. According to the Nall Report, over 75% of the accidents in 2004 were caused by the pilot. Getting good training and exercising good judgment, then, could make your flying much safer than the statistics would at first seem to indicate. Just over 15% of the accidents in 2004 had mechanical causes. That might seem like a high number, but it amounted to 221 accidents. There's no telling how many of those could have been prevented had the pilot been more careful. There's no doubt that recreational flying involves risks. A big part of your training as a pilot will be the management (and minimizing) of these risks. When you start looking for a place to take lessons, sit down with the person you are considering as an instructor and ask her or him this same question. If you don't like the answer, consider flying somewhere else. Safety should matter as much to your instructor as it does to you.