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USCG & Northeast partners team up for Operation Dry Water amid increase in boating fatalities

by U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast 4 Jul 08:29 PDT

The Coast Guard and Northeast partner agencies are scheduled to participate in Operation Dry Water, a national campaign aimed at preventing boating accidents resulting from boating under the influence.

The campaign, which runs from July 2-4, comes during a noted increase in boats on the water and boating fatalities.

The Coast Guard released its 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics Report Wednesday, revealing that there were 767 boating fatalities nationwide in 2020, a 25.1 percent increase from 2019.

The report also shows that in 2020:

  • The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, the highest in the program's recent history. This rate represents a 25 percent increase from last year's fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Where cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Property damage totaled about $62.6 million.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
There is evidence that boating activity increased significantly during the pandemic, from reports of increase boat sales, insurance policies taken out, insurance claims, and calls for towing assistance. With the increased exposure, there was greater risk of deaths, injuries, and accidents.

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2020, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 18 percent of total fatalities. Boaters should never operate a vessel or paddle craft under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and should always wear a life jacket.

As part of Operation Dry Water, the Coast Guard and partner agencies will have an increased presence on the water over the Fourth of July weekend to enforce boating laws and to ensure quick response in the event of maritime emergencies.

For more boating safety information, visit USCGBoating.org.

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