In the most recent year with complete data, the US Coast Guard reports that there were 4062 recreational boating accidents in the U.S. and its territories in which 626 lives were lost and 2,620 were injured. Almost 76% of the fatal accident victims drowned, and of these, 85% were reported as not wearing a life jacket. Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using boats less than 21 feet in length.
BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17% of the deaths. Operators with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent (for most of us, that means just one to three beers) are 10 times as likely to be killed in a boating accident as a sober boater.
Additional contributing factors for deaths were hazardous waters, operator inattention, weather, operator inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout, drug use, navigation rules violation, sharp turn, restricted vision, failure to vent, and inadequate onboard navigation lights.
ABA encourages every boater to be serious about boating safety, starting with the proper kind and amount of boater training. Remember, a boating mishap or fatality often involves innocent people who share in none of the blame, but all of the consequence. As a responsible boater, the life you save may very well be someone else's. Remember, B E S A F E* - KNOW YOUR...
Safety devices and PFDs
First aid and emergency procedures
Environment (area and weather)
...BEFORE YOU GO!
* Source: National Safe Boating Council