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Is our sport too dangerous? My conclusions from the statistics.

Old 05-30-2002, 08:46 PM
Uncle Toys
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Default Is our sport too dangerous? My conclusions from the statistics.

Earlier today, “SR-24” started a thread, “what’s your guess?” Where he posed the worthy question, “With the recent deaths this year and all the accidents, do you think there will be speed limits even though hard to enforce?”

In the thread, “bschowe” provided links to Coast Guard sights with tons of data. Being a research nerd, I printed out the mess and poured over it today. What follows are my conclusions from the government data.

Three big themes:
1. In aggregate, the fatality rate for boating has declined while the number of boats has increased.
2. Performance boating fatalities are low compared to their percentage of the whole.
3. “Excessive Speed” is not a material cause of fatalities.

First - while the number of registered boats has increase by 15% over the last 11 years, the number of fatalities has decrease by 25%. The data providers like to measure this by “fatalities per 100,000 numbered boats.” In this respect, the number has dropped 34% since its peak in 1991 (8.3 per 100,000 in 1991 vs. 5.5 per 100,000 in 2000, the latest year data is available). Interestingly, in the last year, 2000, there were 701 fatalities out of 12,782,143 registered boats. I calculated that to be .0055%, which appears small to me. Does anyone have that data for autos or airplanes?

But that is for all types of boats. The data is also broken down by; length of boat, type of propulsion, and cause of accidents (as well as many others). If someone wanted to, they could certainly use these statistics to mislead in our favor. For example, the bulk of the fatalities appear to be in the under 26 foot range, with the peak of the bell curve around the 10 foot range. This is obviously not the correct way to view the data as there is a much larger number of smaller boats registered than the larger boats.

Second - data provided by type of propulsion. They broke it down by: Air Thrust, Manual, Inboard, Sterndrive, Outboard, Sail, Water jet, and Unknown. I thought Sterndrive would most closely identify our type of boating. Here the data shows that Sterdrives make up 12.3% of the total registered boats, but only have 7.0% of the total fatalities.

Third - according to the data provided under, “Causes of Boating accidents – 2000,” speed was only the ninth leading cause of fatalities and only responsible for 4.7% of the fatalities. No surprise, “alcohol use” was the number one cause of fatalities at 14.7%.

If you then looked at fatalities from “Excessive Speed” as a percentage of the total number of registered boats, the percentage is .00026%. Said another way, that number represents twenty-six, one-hundred-thousands, of one percent. It would be very interesting if someone could dig out the same number for auto fatalities.

Conclusion: Although I am not a statistician, I believe the data shows that our type of boating is not excessively dangerous. Therefore, not in particular need of regulation or oversight by politicians.
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Old 05-30-2002, 08:52 PM
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TooOld: How interesting. Thank you. I am glad you did not kill all you brain cells at Havabru.

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Old 05-30-2002, 09:58 PM
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Hmmm...sounds very much like the jet ski problem-it's all perception.
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Old 05-30-2002, 10:13 PM
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I would add,
deaths without seat belts....???
Deaths without PFD's....???

see the similarity? bass boat or performance boat jet ski etc...
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Old 05-30-2002, 10:37 PM
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But here's a great example of one of your points, doesn't help us any when this sort of tragedy hits the wires:

Put's a sinking feeling in your stomach to read about stuff like this.



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Old 05-30-2002, 11:03 PM
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Thanks for the link, sad story, makes ya think...
I feel bad for everyone involved.
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Old 05-31-2002, 11:35 AM
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Default Uncle Toys

Thanks for the info. Hopefully the politicians will look at stuff like this, but like everyone else is saying, the only thing that gets sensationalized is the big fast boats.
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Old 05-31-2002, 12:00 PM
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Uncle Toys great info!!!with all the posts and Pics at LOTO this past holiday its no wonder that drinking aboard a boat causes so many injuries or deaths....I'm all for a law to make it illegal to have an open container aboard a boat unless its tied up at a dock. Drinking and performance boating dont mix!!!and you can tell me that all the people driving the boats home from the party cove were sober. The drunks make us all look .02
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Old 05-31-2002, 12:17 PM
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Uncle Toys,

I couldn't agree more. Great job in breaking that all down.
High End Performance boats are a very small minority but we all know that just one Bad A$$ Machine can draw the attention away from hundreds of 18 ft open bow runabouts and small fish boats overloaded with booze and crew.

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Old 05-31-2002, 12:25 PM
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Too Old,
Thanks for the data. Very Interesting.
The NHTSA does collect traffic accident data from municipalities that provide information. It's a voluntary program.
The only trouble is that their data is misleading.

For example, say a person runs a light and hits another car that was making an illegal turn. During the investigation the police discover the vehicle that ran the light was speeding. In their report to the NHSTA they note the driver was speeding at the time of the accident. Their data will show that excessive speed was the major cause of the accident and not the fact the driver ran the light or that the other car made an illegal turn.
The program their computers use groups data in several catagories sorted by importance. So this accident was catagorized by speeding because the fact that he was speeding was in the report, even if it wasn't a factor in the accident.

Same if a person dies and they weren't wearing their seat belts.
Regardless of the fact that the crash wasn't survivable in the first place, they will show an increase of deaths due to not wearing the belts.

They also have trouble with their accident percentages.
If a state had 12 accidents last year and this year they have 15. Well, their data will show that there was a 25% increase in accidents this year. The numbers (percentages) look bad but in reality they aren't.

We have to take these statistics with a grain of salt.
Be careful what you read.
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