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Boating fatalities decline

Boating fatalities fell by 11.3% in 2023 to 564 from 636 in 2022 according to figures released by the US Coastguard.

The figures also show a decrease in overall incidents during 2023 compared to 2022 from 4,040 to 3,844. Non-fatal injuries also declined by 4.3% from 2,222 to 2,126.

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2023, accounting for 79 deaths.

The data also shows that in 2023 the fatality rate was almost 5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

The coastguard points out that in 1971, when the Safe Boating Act was first passed, the rate was 20.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Damage to property was US$63 million.

Primary factor

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

“The most frequent events involve collisions with other vessels, objects or groundings, which is why it is so important to keep a proper lookout, navigate at a safe speed, adhere to navigation rules and obey navigation aids,” said Capt. Amy Beach, inspections and compliance director.

Most deaths – 75% – were on vessels operated by individuals who had not received boating safety instruction and the majority of these deaths were caused by drowning with 87% of the victims not wearing a lifejacket.

Open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats were the vessel types most involved in reported incidents.

There was a slightly higher percentage of deaths attributed to canoes and kayaks compared to other vessel types.

“We praise our state and non-profit partners in boating safety who have endeavoured to reduce casualties through educational outreach and enforcement,” said Amy.


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