Federal law requires owners to register recreational boats. In 2013 there were 12.0 million registered recreational boats, down from 12.7 million in 2009. An accident occurring on a recreational boat must be reported to the Coast Guard if a person dies or is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, if damage to the boat or other property exceeds $2,000 and if the boat is lost or if a person disappears from the boat. Out of the 4,062 accidents reported in 2013, 685 occurred in Florida, accounting for 16.9 percent of all incidents. Other states with a high number of boating accidents were California (426), New York (180), Texas (146) and North Carolina (139).
Boating fatalities fell 14.0 percent from 651 in 2012 to 560 in 2013. The rate per 100,000 registered recreational boats was 4.7, down from 5.4 in 2012. The number of accidents fell 10.0 percent from 4,515 in 2012 to 4,062 in 2013. Injuries also fell, from 3,000 in 2012, or 12.7 percent, to 2,620 in 2013. Property damage totaled $39 million in 2013, up 2.6 percent from 2012.
Research has shown that alcohol, combined with typical boating conditions such as motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray can impair a person's abilities much faster than alcohol consumption on land. Boat operators with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.10 percent are estimated to be more than 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than boat operators with zero BAC. Alcohol was the largest human factor in boating deaths in 2013 (16 percent of boating fatalities), causing 94 deaths in 305 accidents and resulting in 251 injuries. Other primary contributing factors were operator inattention, accounting for 57 deaths, and operator inexperience, resulting in 34 deaths.
TOP TEN STATES BY RECREATIONAL WATERCRAFT ACCIDENTS, 2013 (1)
There were 5,537 watercraft thefts in the United States in 2013, down 6 percent from 2012, according to an analysis of federal government data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Watercraft include motor boats, sail boats and other vessels such as jet skis. Of these thefts, 2,195, or 40 percent, were recovered by April 30, 2014. Jet skis were the most frequently stolen watercraft, with 1,215 thefts, followed by runabouts (871), utility boats (363), cruisers (214) and sail boats (44). July saw the highest number of reported thefts (691) and February had the fewest (260).
TOP TEN STATES BY WATERCRAFT THEFT, 2013 (1)