The Coast Guard announced its official 2010 recreational boating statistics Wednesday and said deaths fell to a record low of 672.
The 2010 record is four fatalities fewer than the previous low in 2004 and is 26 deaths lower than the average for the last 10 years. Although the drop is a positive sign, the Coast Guard said the total represents nearly two deaths a day and the service remains resolute in its commitment to preventing fatalities.
“We’re glad to see the numbers decline,” Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, director of prevention policy for the Coast Guard, said in a statement. “I am optimistic that the number of deaths and injuries can continue to be reduced further because of the strong commitment to safe boating from our partners in the states, non-government advocacy groups and the boating industry.”
Reported accidents totaled 4,604 in 2010, down from 4,730 in 2009; there were 3,153 injuries, down from 3,358.
Property damage was estimated at $35 million.
The top five contributing factors in accidents were operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of the deaths.
Almost three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and about 90 percent of them were not reported to have worn a life jacket.