The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report Tuesday, revealing that boating fatalities nationwide that year totaled 626, the third-lowest number of yearly boating fatalities on record.
From 2014 to 2015, injuries decreased from 2,678 to 2,613, a 2.4 percent decrease; deaths increased from 610 to 626, a 2.6 percent increase; and the total number of accidents increased from 4,064 to 4,158, a 2.3 percent increase.
The report also shows that in 2015 the fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year's rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
Twenty-two children under age 13 died while boating that year. Twelve children (55 percent) died from drowning. Two children (17 percent) of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket; half of the remaining 10 children who were not wearing a life jacket were not required to do so under state law.
Property damage totaled approximately $42 million.
Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
Where the cause of death was known, 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 71 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats. The vessel types with the highest number of fatalities were on open motorboats, kayaks and canoes.