Watercraft

Watercraft

WATERCRAFT ACCIDENTS

Federal law requires owners of recreational boats and watercraft (non-commercial) to register them. In 2015 there were 11.9 million registered recreational watercraft, up from 11.8 million in 2014. A recreational boating accident must be reported to the U.S. 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; if the boat is lost or if a person disappears from the boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard says that alcohol, combined with typical conditions such as motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray can impair a person's abilities much faster than alcohol consumption on land. 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 an accident than operators with zero BAC. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 306 recreational watercraft accidents in 2015 (7.4 percent of all accidents), accounting for 122 deaths (19.5 percent of all deaths) and 258 injuries (9.9 percent of all injuries). Other primary contributing factors were operator inattention, resulting in 58 deaths; and operator inexperience, accounting for 37 deaths.

 

Recreational Watercraft Accidents, 2011-2015 (1)

  Accidents Fatalities    
Year Total Involving alcohol
use (2)
Total Involving alcohol
use (2)
Injuries Property damage
($ millions)
2011 4,588 361 758 149 3,081 $52
2012 4,515 368 651 139 3,000 38
2013 4,062 305 560 94 2,620 39
2014 4,064 345 610 137 2,678 39
2015 4,158 306 626 122 2,613 42

(1) Includes accidents involving $2,000 or more in property damage.
(2) The use of alcohol by a boat's occupants was a direct or indirect cause of the accident.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard.

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  • 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims died by drowning in 2015, and of those, 85 percent were not wearing life jackets.
  • The most common types of watercraft involved in reported accidents in 2015 were open motorboats (45 percent), personal watercraft (jet skis) (19 percent) and cabin motorboats (17 percent).

 

Top 10 States By Recreational Watercraft Accidents, 2015 (1)

Rank State Accidents Deaths  People injured Property damage
($000)
1 Florida 671 52 390 $9,770
2 California 369 48 227 3,101
3 New York 174 16 96 1,120
4 North Carolina 162 20 90 1,492
5 Texas 154 44 105 792
6 Maryland 146 21 125 1,074
7 South Carolina 123 17 80 958
7 New Jersey 122 8 64 134
9 Missouri 109 17 70 817
10 Tennessee 107 13 65 493

(1) Includes accidents involving $2,000 or more in property damage. Includes watercraft such as motorboats and sailboats and other vessels such as Jet Skis.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard.

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WATERCRAFT THEFTS

There were 5,031 watercraft thefts in the United States in 2015, down 3 percent from 2014, according to an analysis of federal government data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Watercraft include motor boats, sailboats and other vessels such as jet skis. Of these thefts, 2,114, or 42 percent, were recovered by May 15, 2016. Jet skis (personal watercraft) were the most frequently stolen watercraft, with 1,108 thefts, followed by runabouts (678), utility boats (278), cruisers (181) and sailboats (52). July saw the highest number of reported thefts (612), and February had the fewest (251).

 

Top 10 States By Watercraft Theft, 2015

Rank State Thefts (1)
1 Florida 1,205
2 California 528
3 Texas 399
4 North Carolina 192
5 Washington 173
6 Alabama 171
7 Georgia 170
8 South Carolina 154
9 Louisiana 137
10 Tennessee 119

(1) Watercraft include motorboats and sailboats and other vessels such as Jet Skis.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

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