The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 560 — the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.
From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction. The total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease.
The fatality rate for 2013 of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 13 percent decrease from the previous year's rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million.
"We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work," said Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. "Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating."
The report states alcohol use was the leading known 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 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.