Recreational boating fatalities reach record low

Coast Guard Headquarters NewsWASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard announced Wednesday its official 2010 recreational boating statistics and noted that total fatalities fell to a record low of 672.

The 2010 record is four fatalities less than the previous low in 2004, and is 26 deaths lower than the average number for the past 10 years. While the drop in fatalities is a positive sign, the Coast Guard cautions that the number still represents nearly two deaths per day and remains resolute in its commitment to preventing boating fatalities.

“We’re glad to see the numbers decline,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy for the U.S. Coast Guard. “I am optimistic that the number of deaths and injuries can continue to be reduced further because of the strong commitment to safe boating from our partners in the states, non-government advocacy groups, and the boating industry.”

Total reported accidents were 4,604 in 2010, down from 4,730 in 2009, while injuries totaled 3,153, down from 3,358. Property damage was estimated at $35 million.

The top five primary contributing factors in accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths.

Statistics indicate a clear link between safety and boating education that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, almost three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, roughly 90 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.

“Tragically, so many of these deaths are needless and could have been prevented had boaters taken some simple steps such as taking a boating safety course, not drinking and boating, and always wearing a life jacket,” said Cook.

To view all the 2010 recreational boating safety statistics, go to For more information on boating responsibly, go to

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