Group cites life jackets in boating fatality decline

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The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators applauded last week's release of the Coast Guard's 2010 Recreational Boating Statistics, which showed a drop in fatalities.

“These statistics indicate that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident. The states and territories play an important role in recreational boating safety. It is their combined efforts that are saving lives,” the association’s executive director John Johnson said in a statement.

The report said fatalities dropped to 672 in 2010, the lowest number on record. The study also found that almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, 88 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol remained the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of the deaths.

The statistics also show that there were 3,153 injuries and about $35.5 million in property damage from recreational boating accidents in 2010. Compared with 2009, the number of accidents decreased by 2.66 percent, the number of deaths decreased 8.7 percent and the number of injuries decreased 6.1 percent.

“It's extremely rewarding to see the record-low number of boating deaths in 2010, but the numbers are also clear about how to prevent those families from having to experience any loss. Education and life jackets are the most important lifesaving tools boaters can have at their disposal,” association president James Graybeal said in a statement.