In its 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, the Coast Guard reported that there were 610 boating fatalities in the U.S. during 2014, an increase from 2013 but the second-lowest number on record. The report listed operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use as the top five contributing factors in boating accidents.
In addition to the 610 deaths in 2014, the Coast Guard said 4,064 recreational boating accidents also caused 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million in damage to property. Other statistics from the report:
- The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 10.6% increase from last year’s fatality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
- Compared to 2013, the number of accidents increased 0.05%, the number of deaths increased 8.9%, and the number of injuries increased 2.2%.
- Where cause of death was known, 78% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported lifejacket usage, 84% were not wearing a lifejacket.
- Where instruction was known, 23% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only 12% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
- Eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known. It was listed as the leading factor in 21% of deaths.
- Where data was known, the most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (17%), and cabin motorboats (15%).
- Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), canoes (13%), and kayaks (10%).
- The 11,804,002 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2014 represent a 1.7% decrease from last year when 12,013,496 recreational vessels were registered.