The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics Report Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities nationwide that year totaled 701, a 12% increase from 2015.
Paddlecraft, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up-paddleboards accounted for 24% of the lives lost for 2016, second to open motorboats with 47% of deaths.
Eighty percent of boating accident victims drowned and of those, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.
“In regards to the primary contributing factors of boating accidents, six of the top 10 are directly related to the behavior or actions of the operator,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Ninth Coast Guard District. “It’s the operator’s responsibility to always practice good risk management and provide for the safety of passengers and safety of fellow boaters.”
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
“By an operator’s practicing proper safety, paying attention to their surroundings, practicing good seamanship, and boating education, many of these accidents could be prevented,” Baron said.
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach your engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol or other impairing substance consumption.
Michigan had 125 reported boating accidents with 38 fatalities and 65 injured people