Coast Guard Takes Charge of Boating Safety in the New York Harbor

NEW YORK – Nine out of 10 boating fatalities can be prevented by one simple tool — a life jacket.

National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday May 19, 2007. This year’s theme: “You’re in Command. Boat Responsibly!” continues to impress upon the boating public the importance of having a free vessel safety inspection, outfitting their vessel with multiple signaling devices, filing a float plan to tell others where they will be boating and fishing, and most importantly, ensuring life jackets are within reach and are always on children and weak swimmers.

The Coast Guard is making a conscious effort to educate mariners and is offering the news media an opportunity to interview boating safety experts, view a rescue demonstration and spend several hours on any weekend aboard a Coast Guard vessel in and around New York’s waterways.

Coast Guard Recreational Boating Facts and Figures

Life jackets can be the determining factor between life and death in many accidents. Statistics indicate that 87 percent of all boaters who drowned in 2005 were not wearing a life jacket. Furthermore, alcohol was present and either a direct or indirect contributing factor in about 25 percent of all boating fatalities.

National recreational boating fatalities rose slightly from 676 in 2004 to 697 in 2005.In 2005, N.Y. and N.J. registered 19 fatalities in 290 total boating accidents. There are approximately 1.2 million more registered vessels on America’s waterways than 10 years ago. N.Y. is currently ranked seventh in the country for total number of registered boats with more than 500,000 motorized vessels; N.J. is ranked 26th with 209,678.

“There are still far too many deaths, injuries and accidents on the water,” said Captain Robert O’Brien, Captain of the Port of N.Y. and N.J. “These numbers reinforce the need to continue to reach out to the boating community with boating safety information. Often times it can be as simple as taking a few seconds to put on a life jacket, but those seconds can be the difference between life and death.”

Statistics also show operator carelessness, excessive speed, inexperience and recklessness as leading contributing factors in boating accidents. About 70 percent of fatalities are caused by operators that haven’t taken a boating safety course. For information on Boating Safety Courses near you, please visit or call the Boating Safety Course line, 1-800-336-Boat.

These statistics and more can be found at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety Website.

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