Thursday, May 16, 2013

Boating Deaths Down Last Year

Report from the USCG shows 2012 boating fatalities lowest on record...

Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard.
The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics earlier this week. This is the sobering annual survey that provides a look at boating accidents, their causes, and the resulting injuries and deaths.

The headline news item out of the report is that boating fatalities in the United States for 2012 totaled 651, the lowest number of boating fatalities on record. But a few other facts jumped out at us from the report, including statistics involving alcohol, life jackets and boating safety courses...


Decrease in Accidents and Deaths
From 2011 to 2012, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased from 758 to 651, a 14.1 percent decrease; injuries decreased from 3,081 to 3,000, a 2.6 percent reduction; and the total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,588 to 4,515, a 1.6 percent decrease.

The fatality rate for 2012 of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 12.9 percent decrease from the previous year's rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $38 million.

Drinking and Driving
The report states alcohol use was the most significant contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in about one out of every 6 fatalities last year. 

Life Jackets. All the Time
Almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, with 84 percent of those victims not reported as wearing a life jacket. Since nearly 50% of the boating deaths last year also happened in conditions described as "calm" with less than 6 INCH waves, imagine how many of these drownings could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing life jackets.

School is Not for Fools
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Furthermore, only nine (9) percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider. Inversely, 81% of the deaths, the operator may not have taken such a safety course.

Full Disclosure
If you enjoy reading long reports from government agencies, feel free to visit the USCG Boating Safety Resource Center and download the report from this year or from previous years.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.
And so do we.

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