Monday, December 29, 2003

More Boats, More Fatalities And Injuries, CG Reports

Monday, December 29, 2003

Log News Service - There was an increase in recreational-boat registration and boating fatalities in the United States in 2002, the Coast Guard reported.
The Coast Guard reported in its 2002 Boating Accident Reporting Data, which it released Dec. 5 and is the most current data available, that there were a total of 13,040,726 registered recreational boats in the United States in 2002 compared to 12,876,346 in 2001.

The 5,705 boating accidents reported to the Coast Guard in 2002 resulted in 750 fatalities, 4,062 serious injuries, and more than $39 million in property damage.

The 750 fatalities reverse a downward trend and are at their highest level since 1998 when 815 fatalities were reported, the Coast Guard said.

Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned - 524 out of the total of 750 fatalities. And, the Coast Guard reported that nearly 85 percent of the victims who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. It said that the fatal-accident data show that approximately 440 lives could have been saved in 2002 if boaters had worn their life jackets.

Alcohol was involved in 39 percent of all boating fatalities in 2002 compared to 34 percent in the previous year.

Twenty-eight children age 12 and under lost their lives while boating in 2002 compared to 26 in 2001. And nearly 40 percent of the children who died were not wearing life jackets.

Although the most reported types of accidents are collisions with other vessels, capsizing and falls overboard are the most-reported types of fatal accidents and account for 56 percent of all boating fatalities.

In 2002, the most common types of boats involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (41 percent), personal watercraft (28 percent), and cabin motorboats (15 percents). Sharp increases were reported in the number of reported fatalities involving open motorboats and PWC from 2001.

Overall, operator inattention, operator inexperience, and excessive speed are the leading contributing factors of all reported accidents.

As in previous years, approximately 80 percent of all reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating-safety instruction.

Current federal regulations require the operator of a recreational vessel to report an accident when one or more of the following occurs: a person dies, or a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid; damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 or more; complete loss of any vessel, or when a person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.