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What Accident Statistics Reveal

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on July 30, 2019. In nauticalknowhow

While doing some research for National Safe Boating Week, we ran across some interesting statistics. The following chart lists the states with the most boating accidents, according to the USCG Office of Boating Safety.

ChartObject Number of AccidentsTop Ten States 1997

Unfortunately, Florida has a commanding lead, with California second. This is probably understandable because of the vast amount of shoreline these states have. However, what about Texas? They ring in at number ten and have much more shoreline than all the other “waterfront” states that are listed. And…what’s up with Missouri and Arizona? How many boats could these small states have?

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Looking at the top ten states with the greatest number of registered boats highlights some other interesting items. Even though Florida is third in registered boats, they jump to number one in accidents. (Perhaps because of the year-round boating season.) California holds at number two in both categories and Michigan, with the most registered boats (who would have guessed that?), is third in accidents. Texas, fifth in numbers of registered boats is tenth in accidents. They must be doing something right. And…congratulations to South Carolina, Ohio and Illinois who are eighth, ninth and ten respectively in number of boats but don’t show up at all in the top ten accident states.

Since Florida had the most accidents, we went a little further in our investigation of their specific statistics and found some interesting results. According to Florida’s 1998 recreational boating accident statistics, 77% of all boating accidents involved males while only 23% involved females.

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Another interesting statistic was the age and experience of the operator involved in an accident. It is obvious that the problems lie in the 22-51+ range, however, these boaters are not required to have any boating safety education in Florida. Currently, only those born after September 30, 1980 are required to have any boating safety education.

As far as experience is concerned, 48% of all accidents involved boaters with 100+ hours of operator experience; 18% involved boaters with 10-100 hours of experience; 17% involved boaters with less than 10 hours of experience. The remainder of accidents had no entry for number of hours experience. Seems like those with the most experience cause the most accidents. Or, perhaps, the more time you spend on the water, the higher your odds of being involved in an accident. Interesting!

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Do you think boating education helps in preventing accidents? As you can see from the chart above, 2.5 times as many accidents involve boaters who have had no boating safety instruction.

Other 1998 FL Recreational Boating Accident Statistics of Note:

35% of boating accidents were directly attributable to alcohol use and the overwhelming primary cause of fatalities was alcohol-related. If you drink and boat, you are more likely to be involved in an accident, and once involved, more likely to die. A sobering thought!

53% of fatal boating accident victims drowned, while 39% suffered trauma and 9% died of other causes.

Bottom line: don’t drink and boat, wear your lifejacket, take a safe boating course and maintain a proper lookout, especially for boaters who fit the profile of an accident-maker.

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