East Hawaii News

Coast Guard Issues National Boating Safety Statistics

May 21, 2016, 12:33 PM HST
* Updated May 20, 4:46 PM
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Seamen Chad Dautzenberg, Gunner's Mate 2 Angelo Melita, Seamen Vincent Chao. File photo by Jamilia Epping.

Seamen Chad Dautzenberg, Gunner’s Mate 2 Angelo Melita, Seamen Vincent Chao. File photo by Jamilia Epping.

National Safe Boating Week is just around the corner, and the United States Coast Guard has released its 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics.

An increase in recreational boating accidents was noted in the statistics, along with an increase in overall water fatalities.

Data indicated that from 2014 to 2015, water accidents increased from nine to 12 and fatalities increased from three to five.

All five of the fatalities were with individuals that did not wear a lifejacket, and the primary cause was capsizing, swamping, or flooding.

The Coast Guard reminds the public these national statistics are related to boating only and do not speak to snorkelers, surfers, paddle boarders, or free divers.


According to the Hawai’i Department of Health, in the last five years from 2010 to 2014, there were 385 drowning deaths in the state. The number shows a 25 percent increase over the 1995 to 1999 period.


In addition, the report also shows that nationally in 2015, the majority of recreational boating accidents occurred on Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

“Hawai’i is synonymous with the ocean, and while we encourage people to enjoy the natural beauty and bounty of the ocean, simple precautions can help you do so safely,” said Lieutenant Kevin Cooper, Chief of Incident Management, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Wear your lifejacket, inform someone of your plans and when you’ll return, take communication devices such as a handheld VHF-FM radio, cellular phone or personal locator beacon, and ensure you have water and provisions for the trip.”


Across the country, 76 percent of the known cause of deaths in fatal boating accidents were a result of drowning. Eighty-five percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

Where boating instruction was known, 71 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats between 16 and 26-feet in length, and the vessel types with the highest number of fatalities were on open motorboats, kayaks, and canoes.

In addition, the Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water by wearing a life jacket, taking a boating safety course, attaching your engine cut-off switch, getting a free vessel safety check, and avoiding alcohol or other impairing substance consumption.

The Coast Guard also encourages the use of the safe boating application available on most smart phones. The phone application can help boaters request safe boating information, request safety checks, file a float plan, review navigation rules, report hazards or pollution and request emergency situation.

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