Tuesday, December 21, 2010

States Surpass Last Year’s Boating Deaths

Florida, South Carolina both experience surges in boating fatalities in 2010

Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard
This year has been a tragic one for boaters in many states, especially South Carolina and Florida. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the state has seen 76 boating fatalities so far in 2010, a significant increase over the 66 deaths related to boating in 2009.

Why Wear a Life Jacket?
Since more than 40 of the 76 fatalities were due to drowning, one of the obvious New Year’s resolutions coming out of this report is that you should wear your life jacket while boating. "The most unfortunate part about these statistics is boating fatalities are usually preventable," said Capt. Tom Shipp of the FWC's Boating and Waterways Section.

South Carolina Trying To Catch Up?
How does Florida, one of the world’s top boating destinations, compare to other states? Well, most other states have not reported their 2010 totals yet, but one state has been watching the numbers closely. So far this year, South Carolina has experienced more than twice as many boating fatalities as the dozen deaths in the state in 2009. But despite the appalling statistics, a Lake Wylie Pilot article by John Marks this past weekend suggests that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is still resistant to mandatory boater education requirements.

In 2009, Florida was in the unenviable top spot for boating fatalities, taking the lead away from Texas which reigned in 2008 according to data we looked at from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division.
States with Highest Number of Boating Fatalities in 2009
FL 67 (FWC reports 66)
CA 47
TX 38
MI 36
LA 33
States with Highest Number of Boating Fatalities in 2008
TX 61
FL 55
CA 45
LA 38
MI 34
Slugging Percentage vs Batting Average
To be fair to these states, they are also among the most popular with boaters. When you look at fatalities as a percentage of registered boats in each state, the top states change a bit, although Louisiana looks bad no matter which way you crunch the data. They are the only state from among the 5 in the above chart with more than 10 deaths per 100,000 registered boats in both 2008 and 2009.

Waiting for 2010 Stats
When the 2010 numbers are released in a few months, Florida will likely hold on to the top spot in total boating fatalities, and perhaps Louisiana will catch a break since it was difficult to go boating in 2010 with all that oil in the Gulf.

Stay tuned to the Daily Boater for more grim statistics and boating safety suggestions in the New Year, and don’t forget to wear your life jacket.

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