National rates for boat accidents and deaths down, but Ohio's up

Published: Aug. 16, 2018 at 8:24 PM EDT
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Earlier this summer the U.S. Coast Guard released its 2017 Recreational Boat Statistics. As a Nation, deaths decreased but in Ohio, there was an increase in boating fatalities.

Nationwide for last year, the Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries. The national fatality rate was 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 6.8% decrease from the 2016 fatality rate of 5.9 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Where cause of death was known, 449 boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 370 were not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of deaths.

Operator inattention was the primary cause of an accident in 620 cases resulting in 45 deaths and 381 injuries in 2017.

Alcohol use contributed to 275 accidents, 102 deaths and 227 injuries nationally.

Ohio had 117 accidents, 20 of which were fatal in 2017 compared to 113 accidents with 12 fatalities in 2016. Alcohol was a contributing factor in ten accidents resulting in four deaths in 2017 which is an increase of one over 2016.

Boat registration was up in 2017 with 541,898 registered boats compared to 518,269 in 2016.

With Labor Day approaching, the Safe Boating Council ( has these following tips:

Pay attention and wear life jackets

Know the nautical rules of the road

Stay sober while boating

Be aware of carbon monoxide

Take a safe boating course

Get a free vessel safety check done