Recreational boating accidents, fatalities decline in 2023

WASHINGTON, DC (KTTC) – Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. This means more time outdoors, which puts boating safety back in the spotlight.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard released its 2023 statistics on recreational boating incidents.

Numbers across the country show that accidents are down almost 5% compared to 2022. Boating accidents are also down about 4%. Deaths also dropped by about 11%.

According to Coast Guard data, 75% of deaths were the result of drowning, and almost 90% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.

Digging deeper into these numbers, there are five main factors contributing to boating accidents: operator inattention, improper observation, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure.

Returning to operator inexperience, the Coast Guard reported that 75% of deaths last year occurred on boats operated by people who had not taken a boating safety course.

It’s no secret that a day on the water often involves drinking alcohol. Nearly 20% of fatal boating accidents in 2023 were alcohol-related. When we translate this percentage into an actual number of people, we are talking about 79 people who lost their lives due to the combination of boating and alcohol.

Nine people died in recreational boating accidents in Minnesota last year, and 46 more were injured, according to the state. In 2023, a total of 68 incidents were reported in Gopher State waters.

Last year, seven people were killed and another 20 were injured in Iowa, with a total of 37 incidents reported in the Hawkeye State.

By far the most incidents last year were recorded in Florida – 619. The fewest were in Washington – four.

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