The number of Washington boating fatalities in 2013 was down from the previous year and below the five-year average. According to a report from the U.S. Coast Guard released Wednesday, 17 people died in boating accidents last year.
That was down 43.3 percent from 30 fatalities in 2012 and slightly below the five-year average of 20.2 deaths per year.
Despite the decline, Washington ranks No. 14 in the nation for boating accidents and No. 8 in the nation for boating fatalities.
The release of the report comes as boating organizations are celebrating National Safe Boating Week through Friday.
The decline in boating fatalities also was seen nationwide. The report said there were 560 deaths in 2013, the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.
From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction, according to the report. Total reported recreational boating accidents fell from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease.
“We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work,” Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance, said in a prepared statement. “Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating.”
Alcohol use continues to be a problem on the nation’s waterways, as it was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths. In Washington, alcohol was a contributing factor in accidents that led to five deaths.
Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
The use of life jackets is another key issue, the report points out.
Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, get a free vessel safety check and avoid alcohol consumption.
2013 Recreational Boating Statistics: To see the full report, go to uscgboating.org/assets/1/AssetManager/2013RecBoatingStats.pdf.
Boating safety: For more information on boating safely, go to the Boating Safety Resource Center at uscgboating.org. STATE stats for 2013
Total accidents 94
Fatal accidents 17
Injury accidents 39
Property damage 38
No. of fatalities 17
No. of injured 51
Total damage $983,840 STATE boating fatalities
YearNo. ofFatal No. of