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Coast Guard releases 2014 boating-death statistics

There were 610 recreational boating fatalities in 2014, the second-lowest number of yearly boating deaths on record.

There were 610 recreational boating fatalities in 2014, the second-lowest number of yearly boating deaths on record.

The lowest number of yearly boating deaths was 560 in 2013, according to data released by the Coast Guard.

The most boating deaths occurred in 1973, when 1,754 people died.

“There are three basic things a boater can do to be safer on the water,” National Association of State Boating Law Administrators president Eleanor Mariani said in a statement.

“First, take a boating safety course,” Mariani said.

Where instruction was known, only 12 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had earned a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.

“Second, wear a life jacket,” she said.

Where cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims had drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

“Third, don’t consume alcohol before or while boating. When you add alcohol to boating, your senses and judgment can be seriously affected,” she said. “Your reflexes, balance, coordination and alertness will deteriorate, along with your ability to deal with speed, other boats and threatening weather. You are setting yourself up for a boating accident,”

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 nearly one-fourth of deaths.

The 2014 boating statistics can be viewed on the U.S. Coast Guard website.

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