Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boating Deaths Up in LA, Down Across Country

Louisiana has already passed by its 2010 boating death toll for the entire year...

Photo courtesy of USCG.

Several articles over the past few days have warned boaters in Louisiana to be more careful, and have explained that boating deaths are up in the state over last year. This is true, and boaters should be careful, but let's take a closer look at the numbers in Louisiana and the rest of the country...

Boating in Louisiana: This year vs 2010
Already this year the state has been the home of 27 boating fatalities - a tragically high number that not only is 6 more deaths than all of 2010, but is also a high enough number to land Louisiana in the "top 10" list of boating fatalities by state for the year. 21 deaths were enough to rank the state 8th in 2010. If other states see no more fatalities than they did in 2010, Louisiana will be in the top 5.

What about the oil?
"What does oil have to do with boating?" you ask... 
Many of us - especially those of us who don't live near the Gulf Coast - may have already begun to forget about the Great Oil Disaster of 2010. In addition to the lives that were lost and the impact on the environment, the oil-filled Gulf of Mexico made for a nasty place to boat, and as we reported a year ago many Louisiana boaters headed outside their normal waters to go boating. In fact, when we looked at the states with the most boating deaths a year ago, we predicted boating deaths would be down in Louisiana based on the fact that there were much fewer boaters in the state.

Speaking of previous years...
As we just mentioned, boating deaths are up this year in Louisiana, but they were down in 2010 over previous years - probably due to all the oil in the gulf reducing recreational boating. When we look at Louisiana's fatalities so far this year in that light, they are bad but not as outrageous as recent news reports make it sound. In fact, boating fatalities in Louisiana for 2011 do not seem that inconsistent with pre-oil-disaster years.  This year's mark of 27 seems high compared to the 21 deaths last year, but the state still has a chance of staying below the boating fatality rate it achieved each of the two years before BP screwed  up the Gulf - Louisiana had 33 boating deaths in 2009 and 38 in 2008. When you look at those numbers, the 21 boating fatalities so far this year in Louisiana don't look as out of whack as some news reports make them seem.

And the rest
By now you may be wondering how your state fared in fatalities last year. The good news is that boating deaths were down in 2010 for the entire country - way down... In fact, the 672 boating fatalities in 2010 were the lowest of any year in the Coast Guard's most recent report, which tracked data as far back as 1996. In addition to Louisiana doing better in 2010 than in 2009, Texas and Michigan saw far fewer boating fatalities in 2010 than they did in 2009.

In 2010, the top ten states for boating fatalities were as follows:

State 2010 Fatalities
FL 69
CA 48
TX 28
MI 27
NY 27
SC 27
NC 24
LA 21
AL 20
GA 19

Of course, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming a statistic. The basics include:
- Take a basic boating safety course - even if one is not required in your state.

- Always wear a life jacket.

- Don't boat under the influence of alcohol.

- Don't boat at an unreasonable speed.

- Pay Attention!

Check out the FirstBoat boating safety page, as well as previous boating safety articles here on the Daily Boater for more tips. On a lighter note, FirstBoat has a useful page of resources for those interested in boating in Louisiana.

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