WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP) – The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has released their recreational boating statistics from 2022 and they show a 3.3% decrease in boating deaths across the country.

According to the report, there were 636 boating deaths nationwide in 2022 compared to 658 in 2021. They also found that the total number of accidents decreased from 4,439 to 4,040, and the number of non-fatal injured victims decreased from 2,641 to 2,222.

The data also shows that in 2022:

  • The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 1.8 percent decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.  (In 1971, when the Safe Boating Act was first passed, the fatality rate was 20.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.)
  • Property damage totaled $63 million.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in deadly boating accidents in 2022, accounting for 88 deaths (16%).

Where the cause of death was known, 75 percent of the boating accidents, victims drowned.  Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

“Most incidents occur in benign conditions—calm waters, light wind, and good visibility—under which you may least expect to end up in the water, which is why it is critical to wear a life jacket and engine cut-off switch at all times as they are designed to save your life,” stated Captain Troy Glendye, Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety.  The Coast Guard reminds boaters to ensure life jackets are serviceable, properly sized, correctly fastened, and suitable for your activity.

Vessell types involved in deadly accidents:

  • Open motorboats (44 percent)
  • Kayaks (15 percent)
  • Pontoons (10 percent)  (The second time that pontoon vessels ranked in the top three.)

In Massachusetts, children under the age of 12 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while on a boat that is underway. From September 15 to May 15, canoeists/kayakers are required to wear a life jacket. Personal watercraft users and water-skiers must wear a life jacket.