There are two types of drivers on track...
> Those that have crashed (one or more times)
> And, those that will crash
Anyone saying it's "Safe" is an idiot. There is a real risk and as driver's we must do everything possible to mitigate the risk and the outcome of crashing.
I think when people are saying it's "safe", they are referring to the Novice driver that is going out to their first DE.
I have seen wildly different thoughts as to what safe is, between different organizations running these events.
In my experience, a novice driver that participates in a DE with a reputable organization who is critical of their choices for instructors and does proper tech inspections, will go home safely at the end of the day 99.999% of the time.
That is, if the student listens to his/her instructor.
A good instructor will pit in, and refuse to allow the student back on track if they aren't listening and or acting like an asshat.
Again, my experience has been that you're more likely to see an "accident" in the intermediate run groups, where instructors typically aren't required. Drivers get tunnel vision and can find themselves in a sphincter puckering moment quickly.
Once you get into Advanced/instructor run groups there is typically a heightened sense of safety as these drivers have been doing this for a while and can appreciate the risk/reward. While the accidents at this level seem to be more spectacular due to speed, the drivers are typically better equipped from a safety perspective (cages, HANS, fire suppression, etc....) to walk away.
I have told enthusiastic newbies that there are absolute dangers in taking your car on track, but if they listen in class, listen to instructors, have a safe car, they should feel that it's a relatively "safe" sport.
I don't consider myself to be an idiot.