Harken Derm

2018 USCG Boating Safety Statistics

Published on August 28th, 2019

Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on reported recreational boating accidents. These statistics are derived from accident reports that are filed by the owners / operators of recreational vessels involved in accidents.

The fifty states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia submit accident report data to the Coast Guard for inclusion in the annual Boating Statistics publication. The recreational boating statistics for 2018 have now been released.

According to the report, there were 633 boating fatalities in the U.S. last year, a 3.8 percent decrease from 2017. The report also said that recreational boating injuries were down 4.5 percent (2,629 to 2,511) in 2018 compared to the previous year.

“While these decreases are encouraging, there are still too many deaths and injuries that could be avoided through the use of life jackets and eliminating alcohol consumption while operating a boat,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters.

The Coast Guard reported that alcohol continues to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2018, accounting for 100 deaths, or 19 percent of total fatalities.

“It is heartbreaking to realize that more than 100 people could still be alive today had alcohol use been curbed,” Johnson said. “Anyone who’s spent long periods of time out on the water knows that alcohol consumption, when combined with fatigue from sun and wind exposure, will severely hinder a person’s ability to make good decisions and maintain awareness of their surroundings.”

The report also shows:

• The fatality rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which tied as the third lowest rate in the program’s history. This rate represents a 3.6 percent decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
• Property damage totaled about $46 million.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, and excessive speed ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
• Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life-jacket usage, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
• The most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and motorboats with interiors. Vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (50 percent), kayaks (13.5 percent), and canoes (7 percent).

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and boat sober.

“We thank our boating safety partners for their efforts,” said Johnson. “Together we strive to reduce loss of life, injuries and property damage by improving the knowledge, skill and abilities of recreational boaters.”

To view the 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics, click here.

For more information on boating responsibly, visit http://www.uscgboating.org.

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