California reports record number of boating accidents

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The number of reported boating accidents in California during 2003 was the highest on record, according the annual boating safety report issued recently by the California Department of Boating and Waterways.

A total of 963 boating accidents were reported to the Department, involving 502 injuries, 61 fatalities, and $3,820,000 in property damage. All of those totals were up from 2002 (911 accidents, 468 injuries, 53 fatalities, and $3.7 million in property damage), according to the 68-page report.

The report found that 70 percent of vessels involved in all accidents were less than 26 feet in length, and that 89 percent of vessels involved in fatal boating accidents were also less than 26 feet in length. Of the operators whose ages were known, those in the 31-40 age group were involved in more accidents than any other age group, followed very closely by the 21-30 and 41-50 age groups.

Open motorboats were involved in 51 percent of all accidents, while PWC were involved in 27 percent, according to the report.

A few of the other findings

– Accidents involving water skiing activities have increased 38 percent since 2002.
– Seventeen percent of boating accidents occurred during water skiing activities – defined as all activities involving a vessel towing a person on a towline.
– Approximately 34 percent of all vessels, and 70 percent of personal watercraft involved in accidents, were operated by someone other than the registered owner.
– Accidents occurred mostly during the summer months (May through September), on weekends and during the hours between 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
– The largest number of accidents (51 percent) occurred on lakes, followed by ocean/bay waters (29 percent).
– Eighteen percent of boating accidents and nearly one quarter of all injuries occurred during the summer holiday periods of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
– Thirty-five percent of reported accidents resulted from collisions with other vessels.
– Operator inattention (40 percent) was the most common cause of boating accidents, followed by operator inexperience (33 percent) and excessive speed (25 percent).

The full report can be found at

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