California Ranks Second to Florida in Number of Boating Accidents

LOS ANGELES – According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics released in July 2007, California is second in boating accidents with 569 reported and third in fatalities with 42 reported in 2006. Florida leads the nation with 633 accidents and 63 fatalities. With this year’s boating season just around the corner, this is a concern for the Coast Guard.

“Most boating accidents happen during the day and in good weather,” said Lt. j.g. Andrew Muñoz, spokesman for the Coast Guard in Los Angeles. “Accidents are usually caused by inexperience, inattention, or irresponsible behavior,” said Muñoz.

California has seen a steady drop in accidents from 797 accidents in 2003. This has been attributed to statewide safety campaigns and boater education offered through organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons.

“About 70 percent of boaters involved in accidents have never taken a safe boating course. Education and awareness is the best weapon we have in preventing accidents,” said Muñoz.

Lifejacket wear is also critical to surviving a boating accident, 85 percent of all boating accident fatalities nationwide were due to sudden, unexpected capsizing or falls overboard. About 90 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing a lifejacket.

There has been an increase in regular wear of lifejackets with the recent introduction of more compact and lightweight options.

“Coast Guard members wear lifejackets at all times when we are underway on our small boats. We encourage recreational boaters to do the same,” said Muñoz.

Boating safety statistics are compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety through cooperation of state boating administrators. The report only includes federally reportable accidents that resulted in over $2000 in property damage, necessitated medical treatment beyond first aid, or resulted in a fatality.

National Safe Boating Week is May 17-24, 2008. Boating safety information and the current boating safety statistic report is available on the U.S. Coast Guard boating safety web site at: http://www.uscgboating.org/.

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