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Boating deaths dropped to record low in 2013

Last year saw the fewest boating deaths on record, as well as a 10 percent decrease in accidents and a 12.7 percent drop in injuries, according to the Coast Guard.

There were 560 boating fatalities in 2013, according to data the Coast Guard released Wednesday. Alcohol use was still the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for 17 percent of all deaths.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent from 651 to 560 and injuries decreased 12.7 percent from 3,000 to 2,620, according to the 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics.

The number of reported recreational boating accidents decreased 10 percent from 4,515 to 4,062.

“We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work,” Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at Coast Guard headquarters, said in a statement. “Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating.”

The Coast Guard said that where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open powerboats, personal watercraft and cabin powerboats.

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