Slight decrease in fatalities compared to 2021; 74% on vessels operated by skipper lacking safety instruction
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that there were 636 boating fatalities nationwide in 2022, a 3.3 percent decrease from the 658 deaths in 2021. From 2021 to 2022, the total number of accidents decreased 9 percent (4,439 to 4,040), and the number of non-fatal injured victims decreased 15.9 percent (2,641 to 2,222).
The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 1.8 percent decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. (In 1971, when the Safe Boating Act was first passed, the fatality rate was 20.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.) Property damage totaled $63 million.
Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2022, accounting for 88 deaths, or 16 percent of total fatalities. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
Where the cause of death was known, 75 percent of fatal boating incident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 74 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. In addition to wearing a life jacket and taking a boating safety course, the Coast Guard recommends all boaters to attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and boat sober.
The most common vessel types involved in reported incidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats. Where vessel type was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47 percent), kayaks (14 percent), and personal watercraft and pontoons (9 percent).
Not keeping a proper lookout is a major cause of boating collisions. (photo courtesy of BoatU.S.)
The full 2022 Recreational Boating Statistics report is available at http://www.uscgboating.org.