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2017 Recreational Boating Statistics released


Decrease in deaths, accidents, injuries in 2017, latest Recreational Boating Statistics released

Recreational_Boating_SURVEY.pngThe 2017 Recreational Boating Statistics, released May 29, 2018, contain statistics on recreational boating accidents and state vessel registration. The publication is a result of the coordinated effort of the U.S. Coast Guard and the states and territories.

In 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Compared to 2016, the number of accidents decreased 3.9%, the number of deaths decreased 6.1%, and the number of injuries decreased 9.4%.

“Although these lower numbers are encouraging, I ask those who boat to continue to do so responsibly, especially by donning a life jacket,” said Capt. Scott Johnson, chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters. “Wearing a life jacket is the single-most important thing you can do to save your life or the life of someone you care about.”


  • Where cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned (80% in 2016). Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84.5% were not wearing a life jacket (83% in 2016).

  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of deaths (15% in 2016).

  • Where instruction was known, 81% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction (77% in 2016). Only 14% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.

  • There were 172 accidents in which at least one person was struck by a propeller. Collectively, these accidents resulted in 31 deaths and 162 injuries.

  • Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), kayaks (15%), and personal watercraft (7%).

  • The 11,961,568 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2017 represent a 0.84% increase from last year when 11,861,811 recreational vessels were registered.


Read the U.S. Coast Guard press release. View previous year accident statistics here.