The U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety released its Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report Tuesday that reveals a 3.81 percent increase in boating accident deaths and a 0.81 percent increase in related injuries, even though the number of boating accidents decreased 1.23 percent.
The Coast Guard recorded 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage, stemming from 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009.
The fatality rate, a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats, increased from 5.6 in 2008 to 5.8 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2009.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout and alcohol consumption rank as the top five contributing factors to recreational boating accidents. Alcohol consumption continues to be of major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 16 percent of deaths. Eighty six percent of boating accident deaths occurred on boats where the operator reportedly had not received boating safety instruction.
“The data in the 2009 publication echoes the message that life jacket wear is critical,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard’s Director of Prevention Policy. “Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned, and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket. The two most important things boaters can do to prevent the loss of life is to wear a life jacket and take a boater education course.”
To view the entire Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report, visit: http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.aspx.