There were 710 boating-related deaths in 2006, compared to 697 in 2005. The number of injuries also increased to 3,474 last year from 3,451 in 2005.
Two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, 90 percent were not wearing life jackets. Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were driving boats that were less than 20 feet in length.
Also, consistent with previous years, 70 percent of reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. The report states that operator inattention, carelessness/reckless operation, excessive speed, and failure to maintain a proper lookout are the primary contributing factors in all reported accidents.
And despite the progress being made against driving under the influence, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all reported fatalities.
The report also shows an increase in the number of children under 12 years old who lost their lives while boating in 2006: 29 children died, compared to 21 children in 2005 and 14 children in 2004, and in 2006 nearly twice as many children drowned (15) compared to 2005 (with 8).