The Coast Guard reported a rise in recreational boating fatalities in 2008.
The fatality rate, a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats, increased from 5.3 in 2007 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2008.
During this time, the Coast Guard recorded 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and about $54 million in damage to property, stemming from 4,789 recreational boating accidents.
Operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience and passenger or skier behavior, rank as the top five contributing factors to recreational boating accidents.
Alcohol consumption continues to be of major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 17 percent of the deaths.
Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy, emphasized the importance of boating education. "The 2008 report shows a clear link between safety and boating education by highlighting that only 10 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety education," he said in a statement.
"This statistic indicates that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident," he added. "In addition, two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned and, of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket."