US reports sharp drop in boating fatalities
The U.S. Coast Guard says boating deaths in the U.S. are dropping despite an increase in the popularity of the recreational activity.
Data released by the agency shows that there were 658 boating fatalities nationwide in 2021, down from the 767 deaths in 2020.
A spokesperson attributed 75 percent of the deaths to boats where operators had not received boating safety instructions.
Despite the prevalence of hazardous boating conditions caused by the weather, the agency said that most incidents happen when waters are calm, and there is good visibility.
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Alcohol is one of the leading contributing factors in deadly boating accidents and is blamed for dozens of fatalities each year.
The Coast Guard said the total number of accidents decreased 16 percent, and the number of injured victims decreased 17 percent from last year.
"We praise the work of our boating safety partners who have resolved to reduce casualties through educational outreach and enforcement," Capt. Troy Glendye, chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, said in a statement.
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And with the busy summer season here, the Coast Guard is reminding all boaters to take a safety course before hitting the water.
Boating experts say Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, account for more than 30 percent of all boating related incidents and in many cases victims were not wearing a life jacket.
"A life jacket is one of the most important safety items on your boat," Glendye said. "It is critical to wear one when underway as it may be difficult to don in an emergency.
Florida is the boating capital of the world, with more than 1 million registered recreational vessels across the state.
It’s year-round boating weather provides plenty of opportunities to take advantage of more than 12,000 square miles of water.