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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Gets Good News On The Eve Of National Safe Boating Week – sort of?

Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

The good news is deaths resulting from recreational boating accidents fell in 2007, according to figures just announced by the United States Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division. The count dropped from 710 in 2006 to 688 in 2007, the lowest figure since 2004 and third lowest since the Coast Guard began collecting statistics specifically related to recreational boating. “It’s gratifying to see the number of deaths going down,” commented Rear Admiral James Watson, Director of Prevention Policy. “We hope that this is a result of more boaters adopting responsible boating behaviors, such as making sure that everyone on board is wearing properly-fitting Coast Guard-approved life jackets at all times.”

“Receiving this news on the eve of National Safe Boating Week (NSBW) is certainly good news, sort of, since 688 deaths is still 688 deaths too many” said Coast Guard Auxiliary Member Trent Kelly who will be conducting vessel examinations at a boat launch ramp in southern California this coming weekend. “When we convince one boater to wear his or her life jacket or take a boating safety class then it is well worth it.”

This year marks 60 years since, in recognition of the importance of safe boating practices, Congress, by joint resolution approved a proclamation signed by President Eisenhower, making the seven-day period prior to Memorial Day weekend as “National Safe Boating Week.” This year NSBW is from the 17th to the 23rd of May and like Kelly in southern California and across the Nation, many agencies are working to teach recreational boaters how they can make boating safer. These include the U.S. Coast Guard, National Safe Boating Council, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Power Squadron.

The Coast Guard Boating Safety Division also released figures that revealed while fatalities decreased, other measures – including injuries, number of accidents, and property damage – rose significantly. Injuries rose from 3,474 in 2006 to 3,686 in 2007. Reported recreational boating accidents, which reached 4,967 in 2006, climbed to 5,223. Property damage, which was a record $43,670,424 in 2006 rose further to $53,288,858 last year.

Top causes for all accidents revealed by 2007 statistics remain fairly consistent with previous years. Operator inattention, careless/reckless operation, passenger/skier behavior, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five contributing factors. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of the deaths. Where instruction data was submitted, three fourths of the deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Over two-thirds of those killed in boating accidents drowned, and of those, 90 percent were not wearing life jackets.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include always wearing a life jacket and requiring passengers to do the same; never operating a boat, that includes personal water craft and paddle craft such as a kayak or canoe while under the influence; completing a boating safety course; and getting a free vessel safety check annually by local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadrons, and your State boating agency vessel examiners.