Boating fatalities hit lowest number ever, Coast Guard says

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last year marked the lowest number of recreational boating fatalities on record, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.

There were 560 boating fatalities in 2013, representing a 14 percent decrease from the year before, when there were 651 fatalities, the Coast Guard said. Boating-related injuries, on the other hand, decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 14 percent decrease.

Overall, recreational boating accidents decreased by 10 percent.  

"We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work," Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, said in a news release. "Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating."

The Coast Guard’s report said alcohol use was the main contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction.

The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats.

The Coast Guard’s 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics are available online.

READ MORE: 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Report

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