Recreational boating is one of the greatest benefits of living in South Florida. We have the most beautiful weather in the United States. We have beautiful waters to go boating in. Whether it is going for a jet-ski ride or a leisurely cruise on a sail boat, or speeding through the waterways at high speed on a high powered Cigarette speed boat, one must navigate the waterways very carefully and be aware of the many types of accidents that can occur, and follow safe boating practices at all times. The United States Coast Guard annually publishes statistical information they receive from recreational boat casualty reporting systems. This information is then gathered and results in the recreational boating statistics of 2010 issued by the United States Coast Guard.
The following is listed as a summary of the year 2010, at least with respect to accidents that were documented:
• In 2010, the Coast Guard counted 4604 accidents that involved 672 deaths,
3153 injuries and approximately $35.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
• The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
This rate represents a 6.9% decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.8 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
• Compared to 2009, the number of accidents decreased 2.66%, the number of deaths decreased 8.70% and the number of injuries decreased 6.10%.
• Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those,
eighty-eight (88) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
• Only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only six percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.
• Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
• Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths.
• Twenty-one children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2010. 42% of the children who died in 2010 died from drowning. 44% of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket even though only half of them were required to do so by state law.
• The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%).
• The 12,438,926 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2010 represent a 2.2% decrease from last year when 12,721,541 recreational vessels were registered.
The National Recreational Boating Safety Program has stated their mission is “to ensure the public has a safe, secure, and enjoyable recreational boating experience by implementing programs that minimize the loss of life, personal injury, and property damage while cooperating with environmental and national security efforts”.
The National Recreational Boating Safety Program has created a strategic plan with eleven objectives to reduce casualties. These objectives include:
• Tracking and increasing the number of educated boaters;
• Increasing boating safety messages to target audiences;
• Increasing on-the-water boating instruction;
• Studying and increasing life jacket wear rates;
• Increasing knowledge of and compliance with navigation rules;
• Decreasing boating under the influence;
• Decreasing the number of defective vessels;
• Increasing boater compliance with vessel carriage requirements;
• Increasing the accuracy and reporting rates of reportable accidents;
• Conducting research and development of boating safety initiatives; and
• Measuring the effectiveness of non-profit organization grants.
Again, recreational boating is a part of South Florida. On a beautiful sunny day, it is a beautiful thing to see all the different types of boats out on Biscayne Bay, and out in the ocean. There are large boats, yachts, small boats, jet-skis, kayaks, all types of water crafts out there simply having a good time. No one expects to have an accident. However, the statistics such as those reported by the Coast Guard in 2010 reflects the need to be aware of all these safety concerns and to take appropriate safety precautions anytime you go out on the water.
Our firm continues to represent those who are injured or harmed at sea, and to be boating and safety advocates.