Coast Guard releases 2016 Recreational
Boating Statistics report:
highest number of fatalities on record in the last five years
The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics
Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities nationwide that year totaled 701,
the highest number of yearly boating fatalities on record in the last five
From 2015 to 2016, deaths increased 12 percent from 626 to 701, injuries
increased 11.1 percent from 2,613 to 2,903, and the total number of accidents
increased 7.3 percent from 4,158 to 4,463.
“The boating safety community should view these statistics as a stark
reminder of the importance of boating safety education,” said Capt. Scott
Johnson, Chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard
Headquarters. “We are committed to providing boaters with resources including
boating safety classes and vessel safety checks. One person lost or
injured to a preventable boating accident is one too many so we encourage the
boating public to use these educational resources as a means to prevent
The report also shows that in 2016:
- The fatality rate of 5.9 deaths per 100,000 registered
recreational vessels reflected an 11.3 percent increase from the previous
year’s rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
- Property damage totaled approximately $49 million.
- Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal
boating accidents and was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of
- Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper
lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five
primary contributing factors in accidents.
“Wearing a life jacket, regardless of whether or not a state or federal law
requires one to be worn, is the single greatest factor in preventing death from
drowning,” said Johnson. “All boaters should wear a lifejacket at all times
when on the water, no matter your age, physical ability, or condition.”
Where the cause of death was known, 80 percent of fatal boating accident
victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 83 percent were not wearing a life
jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 77 percent of deaths occurred on
vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. The
most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats,
personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats. The vessel types with the
highest number of fatalities were on open motorboats, kayaks, and canoes.
“We commend the work of our boating safety partners who serve as a valuable
resource to boaters,” said Johnson. “Together, we must continue to strive
to reduce the number of accidents and casualties on our waterways.”
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a
life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach your engine cut-off switch,
get a free vessel safety check, and avoid alcohol or other impairing substance
To view the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, click here. Visit
the Office of
Boating Safety's website for more information on boating responsibly.