The U.S. Coast Guard last week released its 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, which reported 610 boating fatalities, the second-lowest number of yearly boating fatalities on record.
The lowest number of deaths were reported in 2013, with 560, an 8.9 increase.
From 2013 to 2014, injuries increased from 2,620 to 2,678, a 2.2 percent increase and the total number of accidents increased from 4,062 to 4,064, a .05 percent increase. Even with these increases as compared to the record low year of 2013, 2012 to 2014 collectively set record lows for accidents, deaths and injuries.
The fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 10.6 percent increase from the previous year’s rate of 4.7. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million.
“We thank our partners for their work in boating safety, particularly for the Wear It! and other key outreach initiatives promoting life jacket use, boating education efforts and Operation Dry Water activities,” Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, said. “Together, we focus on the important role of life jacket use, navigational knowledge, and safe, sober boating to prevent accidents.”
According to the report, alcohol use was listed as the leading factor of boating deaths with 21 percent. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience and excessive speed also ranked in the top five primary contributing factors in accidents
Where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 77 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instructions. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats. The vessel types with the highest number of fatalities were open motorboats, canoes and kayaks.
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 or other impairing substance consumption.
To view the 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, and for more information on responsible boating, visit www.uscgboating.org.