The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 560--the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.
"We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work," said Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. "Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating."
The report states alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16% of deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure 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, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters (paddlers included) to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.
Join us on Twitter for #SafeBoatWeek, starting today through May 23. We'll be posting safe boating/paddling tips all week long, and we're even giving away a few goodies--so stay tuned!