Recreational boating fatalities in the States, five U. S. Territories, and the District of Columbia dropped to a record low of 676 in 2004,, and then rose slightly in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, there were 685 boating fatalities reported by the CG Recreational Boating Accident Report Database (BARD), and in 2011, that figure rose to 758. The highest number of recorded boating fatalities was an incredible 1,750 in 1973, with 90% of those fatalities caused by drowning.
Reported injuries rose from 3,474 in 2006 to 3,686 in 2007, and reported accidents rose from 4,967 in 2006 to 5,223 in 2007, and then dropped to 4,789 in 2008. There were 3,358 injuries reported in 2009. And although 2006 set a record for property damage at $43,670,424, 2007 topped that again with property damage reported to be a whopping $53,288,858 with $54 million again in 2008. It’s estimated that there was $36 million in damage in 2009.

The U.S. Coast Guard has released its 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 651, the lowest number of boating fatalities 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.

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 1;7 percent of the deaths. 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. 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 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.

View the Recreational Boating Statistics.

Over the years, many boating accidents were the result of alcohol use, and most of all boating fatalities could have been prevented by wearing personal flotation devices.