U.S. boating deaths second-lowest on record

610 people died in recreational boating accidents in 2014, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Coast Guard. This marks the second lowest number of yearly boating fatalities on record.

The lowest number of yearly boating fatalities was 560 in 2013. The greatest number of boating deaths was recorded in 1973 when there were 1,754 fatalities.

“There are three basic things a boater can do to be safer on the water,” said Eleanor Mariani, president of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

“First, take a boating safety course,” Mariani said. Where instruction was known, only 12 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had earned a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.

“Second, wear a life jacket,” she said. Where cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims had drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

“Third, don’t consume alcohol before or while boating. When you add alcohol to boating, your senses and judgment can be seriously affected. Your reflexes, balance, coordination and alertness will deteriorate, along with your ability to deal with speed, other boats and threatening weather. You are setting yourself up for a boating accident,” Mariani said. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in nearly one-fourth of deaths.

To view the 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, visit http://www.uscgboating.org/library/accidentstatistics/RecreationalBoatingStatistics2014.pdf.

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