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Key facts to know about boating accidents

Boating accidents don't happen as often as car accidents in Pennsylvania, so many people do not know what causes them or how to avoid them. Below are some key facts that you should know this summer, as the boating season kicks into high gear.

Small craft are involved in accident more often than larger boats. In fact, in 2014, 80 percent of those who drowned had boats that did not exceed a length of 21 feet.

When looking at the contributing factors that lead to boating accidents, the top five were determined to be the following:

- Inattention from the operator.- Not keeping a proper lookout.- Having an operator who was inexperienced.- Traveling at an excessive speed.- Consuming alcohol.

Alcohol contributes more than anything else when an accident is fatal. In fact, it was found as at least part of the reason in 21 percent of all such accidents.

When children pass away, it is most often due to drowning. This happened in 58 percent of the cases in 2014.

The type of craft being used also contributes to the fatalities rates. Coming in with 47 percent of the fatalities, open motorboats were the most dangerous. They were followed by very small boats, like canoes and kayaks, with 13 and 10 percent, respectively.

This is national data, but it still shows the general trends in Pennsylvania and shows new boaters what they should watch out for. Naturally, even knowing the causes cannot always prevent an accident, though, so you may want to look into your legal rights if you've been injured or if you've lost a loved one.

Source: U.S. Coast Guard, "2014 Recreational Boating Statistics," accessed June 24, 2015

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