Special observances come and go, but most are not associated with sobering statistics of death and injury like the National Safe Boating Week observance declared by transportation officials for mid-June. The main thing we remember about this year’s NSBW are the numbers released by the Coast Guard: More than 60,000 people are injured each year in boating accidents, in addition to the 1,000 or so who are killed.
Our nation’s waterways and coastal zones are second only to highways as scenes of transportation-related deaths. Ninety percent of those who die in boating accidents do so by drowning. More than half of them have typically been drinking alcohol.
One out of three operators of recreational marine craft do so while consuming alcohol, according to government studies. One last casualty note: 70 percent of boating fatalities occur on boats less than 20 feet in length.