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560 fatalities from boating accidents in U.S. in 2013

According to the Recreational Boating Statistics released by the U.S. Coast Guard on May 14, 560 people died in boating accidents in 2013. This was a 14 percent drop from the 651 fatalities in 2012. The number of injuries from boating accidents also decreased by 12.7 percent, from 3,000 in 2012 to 2,620 in 2013. There were a total of 4,062 recreational boating accidents last year, 10 percent lower than the 4,515 accidents in 2012.

While the drop in the number of accidents, deaths and injuries is certainly positive, it may undermine how serious and numerous these accidents can be. In 2013, the amount of property damage reported came to a reported $39 million, and there were 4.7 deaths for every 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Most of the vessels were personal watercraft, cabin motorboats and open motorboats.

When it comes to boating accidents, the use of alcohol was the leading identifiable contributing factor, coming in at the main reason for 17 percent of the 2013 deaths. Five of the other top contributing factors — in no particular order — were operator inexperience, operator inattention, excessive speed, improper lookout and machinery failure. Of the 560 fatalities, 77 percent died from drowning, and only 16 percent of those who died from drowning were wearing life jackets.

The risk of a fatal boat accident can be reduced by boaters wearing life jackets, having the proper instruction on boating safety and boating sober, according to the director of inspections and compliance of the U.S. Coast Guard. When a person is injured or killed in a recreational boating accident as a result of a reckless boat driver or overcrowded boat, it is possible that the boat operator could be held liable in a personal injury suit.

Source: Your Houston News, "U.S. Coast Guard releases 2013 recreational boating statistics report" No author given, May. 17, 2014

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