Each year the US Coast Guard releases a study on recreational boating statistics for registrations, accidents, deaths and injuries. With summer approaching, more and more families are likely to take part in recreational boating activities. The Coast Guard reports that March and April, 2012 were the months with the highest percentage of fatal accidents. And, Texas was reported as the 3rd highest percentage of deaths behind only Florida and California.
In 2012, the Coast Guard reports 4,515 accidents involving 651 deaths and 3,000 injuries. This represents a fatality rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Fatality rates did decrease from 2011 by 12.9%.
March and April, 2012 were reported as the months with the highest percentage of fatal accidents. June, July and August, 2012 had the most reported non-fatal accidents.
The most common primary contributing factors to accidents were – operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. 85% of the individuals who died of drowning in a fatal boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.
Age of the Victim and Types of Injuries
In 2012, the most injuries were reported to individuals between 20 and 29 years old. Children between 13 and 19 years old were a close second. Of the 3,000 reported injuries, almost half were lacerations or broken bones.
The Coast Guard reported that there were 578 fatal accidents in 2012. Texas had 32 fatal accidents, 23 of which were a result of drowning. This was the third highest number of deaths in the country behind only Florida and California. And, based upon the number of boat registrations in Texas is 5.5 deaths per 100,000 boats registered.
Leading Factors to Injuries and Deaths
Of the 4,515 accidents that occurred in 2012, the top three primary factors contributing to the crash were human error. Driver inattention was cited as the primary contributing factor in 581 of the crashes, operator inexperience was cited in 417 of the crashes, and improper lookout was cited in 391 of the crashes.
It is also worth noting that alcohol use was the primary contributing factor in 280 of the crashes. But, in crashes involving fatalities, alcohol was the leading contributing factor. Alcohol was noted as the leading factor in 17% of the accidents involving death.
Life Jacket Use
Many people enjoy recreational boating activities without using life jackets, especially for children. It is recommended that everyone wear a life jackets while boating and is required by law in most states for children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket at all times while boating. And, just because a child or adult is not required to wear a life jacket, it is always a good idea to take this precaution when boating.
In 2012, almost 71% of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of these 85% were reported as not wearing a life vest. Specifically as to children, 42 children under the age of 13 lost their lives while boating. Of these 42 children, 42% (or 10 of the children) died of drowning. And, of the 10 children who died of drowning 8 of them were not wearing a life vest.
What to Take Away From These Statistics?
Recreational boating can be a fun activity for everyone involved, but as with any activity, safety must be paramount. The dangers of being out on the water are real. Life jackets, attentive drivers and passengers and responsible consumption of alcohol are all important. It is also especially important to take safety precautions with children and be attentive to their actions in and around water and boating.