Recreational Boating Safety Facts

Recreation Boating Safety Facts

All figures are from the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2015 Recreational Boating Safety Statistics, the latest official record of reported recreational boating accidents. Full report available at: http://uscgboating.org.

  • Drowning was reported as the cause of death in three-fourths of all fatalities.
  • Approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
  • In 2015, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
  • The fatality rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 1.9% increase from last year’s fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Only 15 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed as the top 5 primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.
  • Twenty-two children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2015. Twelve children, or approximately 55% of the children who died in 2015 died from drowning. (Two children, 17%, of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket; half of the remaining ten children were not wearing a life jacket and were not required to do so under state law.)
  • Where data was known, the most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (45%), personal watercraft (19%), and cabin motorboats (17%).

National Recreational Boating Statistics

  • Fatalities: 626
  • Drownings: 428
  • Injuries (requiring medical treatment beyond first aid): 2,613
  • Boating Accidents: 4,158
  • Property Damage: $41,832,634
  • Number of registered recreational boats in the U.S.: 11,867,049

Top-Ranking States for Boating Deaths

  1. Florida: 52
  2. California: 48
  3. Texas: 44
  4. Washington: 29
  5. Michigan: 24
  6. Georgia/Louisiana (tie): 22
  7. Alabama/Maryland (tie): 21
  8. Kentucky/North Carolina/Wisconsin: 20
  9. Minnesota: 18
  10. Missouri/South Carolina (tie): 17

Top-Ranking States for Reported Boating Accidents

  1. Florida: 671
  2. California: 369
  3. New York: 174
  4. North Carolina: 162
  5. Texas: 154
  6. Maryland: 146
  7. South Carolina: 123
  8. New Jersey: 122
  9. Missouri: 109
  10. Tennessee/Washington (tie): 107