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Monday, May 21, 2012

Boating Safety Week

With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, a lot of recreational boaters will be hitting the waterways for the first time this year. With that in mind, the National Safe Boating Council has declared the week of May 19 through the 25th as National Safe Boating Week.

Most people realize the hazards associated with driving a motor vehicle but it’s easy to forget that boating can be just as hazardous. In 2011, the Coast Guard counted 4588 accidents that involved 758 deaths, 3081 injuries and approximately $52 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. While the death rate on the nation’s highways has been steadily going down, the death rate for recreational boaters has been rising. The death rate for 2011 represented a 14.8% increase over the boating fatality rate of the previous year.

Boating fatalities occur for pretty much the same reasons as auto related fatalities; speed, inattention, and alcohol. In 2011, according to the US Coast Guard’s annual report on recreational boating accidents:

·         Seventy (70) percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, eighty-four (84) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
·         Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16% of the deaths.
·         Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
·         The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (19%), and cabin motorboats (14%).
·         Fifteen children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2011.

According to the Coast Guard, only eleven percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only seven percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.

The theme of this year’s Safe Boating Week is the “Wear It!” campaign; reminding boaters to always wear their life jacket. Just as the seat belt is the last line of defense in a automobile collision, the life jacket is the last line of defense in a boating incident. It’s too late to remember to don it when you are flying over the side toward the water.

Remember also that a BUI(Boating Under the Influence) is just as serious as a DUI and in most states, carries the same consequences, including loss of driver’s license. 

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