Dramatic increase in recreational boating deaths

New figures show 2016 was the deadliest year for recreational boaters in the U.S. in the last five years.

The U.S. Coast Guard says 701 people died, a 12 percent increase from the year before. Eighteen of those deaths happened in Washington state.

Nationwide, injuries increased by more than 11 percent to 2,903, and the rate of accidents jumped 7.3 percent to 4,463.

"One person lost or injured to a preventable boating accident is one too many,"  said Captain Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters.

Alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths.

Other accidents involved boat operators who were inexperienced, not paying attention, or didn't have a proper lookout.

Speeding and violating navigation rules also played a role.

Johnson is urging boaters to take advantage of the safety classes and vessel safety checks the Coast Guard offers.

"All boaters should wear a life jacket at all times when on the water, no matter your age, physical ability, or condition," Johnson said.

© 2017 KING-TV


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