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Boating Deaths Remain Steady in NJ [AUDIO]

While boating deaths are decreasing nationwide, a Coast Guard report finds they’re remaining steady in the Garden State.

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The report finds nationwide, since 2009, accidents have fallen from 4,730 to 4,062; fatalities have followed suit, dropping from 736 in 2009 to 560 in 2013.

However in New Jersey, accidents have barely budged, from 126 to 123, and fatalities have actually increased from six in 2009 to eight in 2013. Additionally, the number of fatalities has remained steady, bouncing between seven and eight, from 2010 through 2013.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as top factors for accidents according to the reports, but alcohol remains a top cause for the accidents from 2012 to 2013, especially since it can be involved or contribute to the other factors.

What happens is, you get boaters out there and they’ve had a few drinks. They’re not paying as close attention as they should and boat collisions happen, especially during the summer months when there is a lot of vessel traffic out there,” said petty officer Nick Ameen.

The report found collisions with other recreational boats is the leading cause of accidents, however boats flooding or capsizing are the leading cause of death.

In addition to causing collisions between vessels, Ameen said alcohol can make operators less careful. That becomes dangerous especially when boats hit shallow water at high speeds.

“That can result in serious injuries from people being ejected from a vessel, especially if they’re not wearing a life jacket,” Ameen said. “If they happen to be ejected from the vessel, they’re not wearing a life jacket, and they’re unconscious, that’s not going to end well.”

In the almost 400 drowning deaths, 328 victims were not wearing life jackets, the report said.

While the Coast Guard has no official reasons why New Jersey isn’t seeing lower accidents and fatalities, Ameen said it could be related to the state’s relatively short boating season compared to southern coastal states.

“New Jersey’s boating season is only several months long,” he said. “Maybe it plays a part of that, because people are restricted from boating for so long because it’s cold, that when summer comes everyone is so excited and wants to go out all at the same time.”

National boating accidents/deaths:

  • 2009: 4,730/ 736 deaths
  • 2010: 4,604/ 672 deaths
  • 2011: 4,588/ 758 deaths
  • 2012: 4,515/ 651 deaths
  • 2013: 4,062/ 560 deaths

New Jersey boating accidents/deaths

  • 2009: 126/ 6 deaths
  • 2010: 116/ 8 deaths
  • 2011: 119/ 8 deaths
  • 2012: 115/ 7 deaths
  • 2013: 123/ 8 deaths

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating 2013 report

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