Coast Guard: Last year was deadliest boating year in 5 years

- FILE - U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue vessel (WTNH)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTNH) – New numbers from the coast guard show that 2016 had the highest number of boating fatalities in this country in five years. From 2015 to 2016, deaths increased 12 percent from 626 to 701, injuries increased 11.1 percent from 2,613 to 2,903, and the total number of accidents increased 7.3 percent from 4,158 to 4,463.

“The boating safety community should view these statistics as a stark reminder of the importance of boating safety education,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, Chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters. “We are committed to providing boaters with resources including boating safety classes and vessel safety checks. One person lost or injured to a preventable boating accident is one too many so we encourage the boating public to use these educational resources as a means to prevent accidents.”

The Coast Guard says in incidents where the cause of death is known, 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket. 77 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

“We commend the work of our boating safety partners who serve as a valuable resource to boaters,” said Johnson. “Together, we must continue to strive to reduce the number of accidents and casualties on our waterways.”

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach your engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and don’t drink or use drugs when operating a boat.

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