WASHINGTON, D.C. – Deaths resulting from recreational boating accidents fell in 2007, according to figures just announced by the United States Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division, the Coast Guard Auxiliary reported in a statement today.
The count dropped from 710 in 2006 to 688 in 2007, the lowest figure since 2004 and third lowest since the Coast Guard began collecting statistics specifically related to recreational boating.
"It's gratifying to see the number of deaths going down," commented Rear Admiral James Watson, Director of Prevention Policy. "We hope that this is a result of more boaters adopting responsible boating behaviors, such as making sure that everyone on board is wearing properly-fitting Coast Guard-approved life jackets at all times."
The Coast Guard Boating Safety Division also released figures that revealed while fatalities decreased, other measures – including injuries, number of accidents, and property damage – rose significantly. Injuries rose from 3,474 in 2006 to 3,686 in 2007. Reported recreational boating accidents, which reached 4,967 in 2006, climbed to 5,223. Property damage, which was a record $43,670,424 in 2006, rose further to $53,288,858 last year.
Top causes for all accidents revealed by 2007 statistics remain fairly consistent with previous years, according to the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Operator inattention, careless/reckless operation, passenger/skier behavior, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five contributing factors. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 21 percent of the deaths, the organization reported. Where instruction data was submitted, three fourths of the deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Over two-thirds of those killed in boating accidents drowned, and of those, 90 percent were not wearing life jackets.
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