“The likelihood of a boating accident increases on Memorial Day weekend,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokes-man for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Rivers and lakes are loaded with boats, and the boaters are oftentimes loaded on alcohol.”
In 2013, there were 4,062 accidents with 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries, and about $39 million of property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. There are an estimated 12 million recreational vessels registered in America. However, only 72 percent owners in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have boat insurance, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey.
The top five contributing factors in boating accidents were: operator Inattention, 567; improper lookout, 396; operator inexperience, 385; excessive speed, 319; and machinery failure, 286.
Alcohol use ranks sixth in total boating accidents (236), but is the lead contributing factor in accidents involving deaths (75).
“Drinking while driving is just as illegal in a boat as it is in a car,” Jenkins said. “What’s worse is many boaters who spent the day drinking on the water, still have to drive their car home from the docks. Whether you are on the road or the water this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to have a designated driver if you plan to drink.”
The survey was conducted online among boat owners living in the Southern region of The Auto Club Group (Florida, Georgia and Tennessee) from April 14 to May 1. A total of 230 residents completed the survey. The survey has a maximum margin of error of ± 6.5 percentage points.