WASHINGTON, D. C., May 16, 2012 -Total boating fatalities last year rose to 758, the highest number on record since 1998, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's official 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics released today.

From 2010 to 2011, total reported accidents decreased less than one percent from 4,604 to 4,588, deaths increased 12.8 percent from 672 to 758 and injuries decreased 2.3 percent from 3,153 to 3,081. Property damage totaled approximately $52 million. The fatality rate measured 6.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, a 14.8 percent increase from last year's rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16 percent of the deaths.

Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket. Only 11 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction.

Says Kelly Townsend, Director of the Vessel Examination and Partner Visitation Department (DIR-V),"These are sobering statistics. I would encourage all members to read the entire report, and vessel examiners to use them in educational exchanges with boaters when performing VSCs."

The report is published annually by the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Division.

Source: [Kelly Townsend, DIR-V]