The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday released its 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics, revealing that boating fatalities last year totaled 651, the lowest number on record.
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, according to a news release.
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.
The report states alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of the deaths, according to the release. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
Almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, with 84 percent of those victims not reported as wearing a life jacket, according to the release. Approximately 14 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 reminds boaters to be responsible on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.