Minnesota reports record low boating deaths

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota’s 2008 boating fatality rate was the lowest since the state’s Department of Natural Resources began keeping records in 1961, according to a recent report in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal. With 12 boating fatalities last year, the state recorded 1.38 deaths per 100,000 registered boats.

The DNR attributed the drop in deaths to increased life jacket use, more boaters taking boating safety classes, strong alcohol laws and enforcement and larger, more stable boats, the paper reported.

“We’re encouraged that water fatality rates continue to fall, but there are still too many people losing their lives,” Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist, told the paper. “We still have room for improvement.”

Eleven of the 12 fatal watercraft accidents were single-boat accidents, according to the Daily Journal, with five falls overboard, four boat capsizings, one swamping and one collision with a submerged object. The final accident was a fatal collision between two personal watercraft.

Other factors reported by the paper were:

— Ten of the 12 victims were not wearing a life jacket.

— Alcohol was a factor in five of the accidents.

— Cold water was a factor in five of the deaths.

— Half of the boats involved were non-motorized canoes or paddleboats.

— Three accidents involved anchored motorboats or boats next to a dock.

— All victims were males ranging in age from 14 to 78.

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