HomeTable of ContentsSection 1Section 2Limitations of the Analysis2004 Accident SummaryAccidents Involving Personal WatercraftAccidents Involving Water SkiingAccidents Involvig YouthsFatal Boating AccidentsAlcohol Use and Fatal Boating AccidentsSection 3Section 4Section 5Section 6GlossaryContact DBWDBW HomeDownload PDFs

Section 2
 
 

Boating Accident Program

This section summarizes 2004 boating accident statistics. The California Division of Boating and Waterways, law enforcement agencies, the United States Coast Guard, educational institutions, and California boaters use these statistics to help improve boating safety.


A. Limitations of the Analysis

Reportable Accidents
The statistics in this report reflect every reported boating accident in California in 2004. Although the Department believes that all accidents involving fatalities were reported, many non-fatal accidents are never reported to the Department or law enforcement agencies due to noncompliance with, or ignorance of, the reporting law. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that only about 10% of accidents are actually reported to state programs nationwide.

An increase in the number of reported accidents from year to year might not necessarily reflect an increase in the actual number of accidents, but rather might result from improved reporting efforts or research from other sources (e.g., newsclippings). To improve the accuracy of accident statistics, the Department has increased its efforts to obtain all accident reports by working closely with law enforcement agencies.

Accident Statistics
A total of 744 accidents were reported to the Department in 2004. Some statistics in this report are measured as a percentage of these total accidents. Often, there is more than one cause of an accident, more than one operator involved in an accident, or more than one vessel involved. Therefore, the number of vessels, like the number of operators involved in accidents, usually exceeds the number of accidents. A total of 897 operators were involved in boating accidents in 2004. Many statistics presented in this report are measured as a percentage of the number of operators involved or the number of causes-rather than the 744 accidents-in order to provide more accurate comparisons.

Alcohol Use
Analysis of alcohol-related accidents can be complicated for the following reasons:

  • Delayed Accident Reporting – Often there is significant delay between the time of the accident and the reporting of the accident to law enforcement agencies. Delays can happen for a variety of reasons, including emergency care needs and the desire to avoid legal consequences. (Operators/passengers are reluctant to report themselves as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.) Unfortunately, these delays can result in the loss of accurate data due to alcohol burn-off.
  • Delayed Body Recovery – Sometimes, the bodies of boating accident victims are not recovered immediately. A delay of more than two days in recovering a body can result in significantly altered blood alcohol levels due to the process of decomposition, a by-product of which is blood alcohol. 23% of boating fatalities in 2004 could not be tested for alcohol for the above reasons.


B. 2004 Accident Summary

Findings
The 744 accidents reported to the Department during 2004 involved 439 injuries,
44 fatalities, and over $4 million in property damage. All totals were lower than those in 2003 (963 accidents, 502 injuries, 61 fatalities, and $3.8 million in property damage).

The total number of boating accidents decreased 23% from 963 in 2003 to 744 in 2004. Most of the decrease is attributed to sharp drops in accidents at many lakes throughout the state and also the San Francisco Bay area.

Exhibit II-1 | 1980-2004 California Boating Accident Statistics

Exhibit II-1 presents boating accident statistics in California from 1980 through 2004


Accidents on lakes throughout the state decreased 33% from the 2003 boating season, with some lakes experienced up to a 50% decrease in boating accidents. Reports from waterway managers indicate that there were fewer visitors during the summer months on some lakes. This appeared mainly to be due to low water levels at a number of lakes which may have kept boaters away. Other reasons given for changes were an increased law enforcement presence at some water bodies. In the San Francisco Bay area, accidents decreased 63%. This decrease appears to be mainly attributed to problems with accident report collection. The Department will be working with the U.S. Coast Guard to rectify this problem in the future. With the exception of the San Francisco Bay area, the total number of accidents coastal areas decreased only slightly.

Other bodies of water such as the Colorado River and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta experienced a slight rise in overall boating accidents. Additionally, fatalities on the Colorado River rose from 2 in 2003 to 8 in 2004.

Personal watercraft accidents were at the lowest recorded level and were 29% lower than 2003 totals. PWC accidents decreased 45% on lakes, but increased 29% on the Colorado River and 18% on the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. Accidents involving open motorboats also decreased 21%. Open motorboat-related accidents were lower on nearly all types of water bodies, decreasing 25% on lakes, 17% on the Colorado River, 21% on the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, and 75% in the San Francisco Bay area. Accidents involving auxiliary sailboats decreased 42% overall. They decreased 72% in the San Francisco Bay area and 35% along other areas of the coast.

Accidents involving water skiing activities also decreased from 161 in 2003 to 118 in 2004, a 27% decrease. This is discussed further in the section, Accidents Involving Water Skiing

Exhibit II-2 | 2004 California Boating Accidents by County

Exhibit II-2 presents 2004 boating accident statistics by county.

Type and Cause of Accidents
Exhibit II-3 | Types & Causes of 2004 California Boating Accidents by Vessel Type


Exhibit II-3
presents types and causes of accidents by vessel type. Overall, the most common type of accident involved collision with another vessel (38%). Open motorboats and personal watercraft were the most common types of vessels involved in accidents and were involved in 52% and 25% of accidents respectively. The most common type of accident involving open motorboats was collision with another vessel (31%), followed by accidents involving skier mishaps (20%). Most accidents involving PWC were collisions with other vessels (70%), followed by falls overboard (13%).

The most frequently stated causes of accidents overall were operator inattention (40%) operator inexperience (28), and excessive speed (27). (A boating accident can have more than one attributable cause.)

The leading causes of accidents involving open motorboats were operator inattention and operator inexperience. The leading causes of accidents involving PWC were operator inexperience and operator inattention. Overall, these causes were consistent with previous years.

Time and Location
Accidents occurred mostly during the summer months (May through September), on weekends, and between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Of the 744 boating accidents, 136 (18%) occurred during the three holiday periods of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. During these periods, 25% of all injuries and 18% of fatalities also occurred.

Of all accidents occurring on lakes throughout the state in 2004, 25% occurred during these holiday periods.

Exhibit II-4 | 2003 California Boating Accidents by Location


Exhibit II-4
presents the accidents, injuries, and fatalities by location. Overall, most accidents and injuries occurred on lakes, 44% and 47% respectively, and more occurred on northern lakes. These percentages have decreased from 51% and 65% in 2003.

Vessel Type and Length
In 2004, open motorboats accounted for approximately 50% of all vessels registered in California, and PWC accounted for 18%. Open motorboats were involved in 52% of all accidents and PWC were involved in 25% of all accidents. This indicates that although accidents involving PWC decreased dramatically, they were involved in a somewhat disproportionately high number of accidents. However, the number of PWC involved in accidents has decreased substantially in the last seven years and has decreased 52% since 1997, when accidents involving these vessels were at an all-time high of 391. Most vessels (66%) involved in accidents were less than 26 feet long.

Operator Age
Overall, operators in the 21-30 age group were involved in accidents more often than those in any other age group, followed by operators in the 41-50 and 31-40 age groups. The 41-50 age group was involved most often in open motorboat accidents, followed by the 31-40 age group. Most PWC accidents involved operators in the 11-20 age group, followed closely by the 21-30 age group.

Operator Owner Status
42% of all vessels involved in accidents were operated by the registered owner. About 34% of vessels were operated by someone other than the registered owner (26% were borrowed and 8% were rented).

Representative Accidents

  • The operator of an open motorboat was docking the vessel when a child passenger reached out to grab the dock and her hand became pinned between the dock and the vessel, partially amputating her thumb.
  • Three people were out fishing when a wave unexpectedly capsized their vessel. The operator and a passenger were wearing their lifejackets but the other passenger was not. He called to the others to help him and toss him a life jacket, but they were unable to reach him and he drowned.
  • In an attempt to beat another vessel to the fuel dock, the operator of an open motorboat overshot the dock and collided with a vessel that was being trailered at the launch ramp.
  • Two PWC operators were traveling together one behind the other. The operator in front slowed down and the operator in the rear, who had been attempting to catch up with him, rear ended him. He sustained internal injuries.
  • The operator was towing a person on a tube.
    A passenger in the stern was feeding the excess ski line off the stern of the vessel when his foot became caught in the line and he was jerked overboard and was pulled into the propeller and died from his injuries


Exhibit II-5 | 2004 Registration & Accident statistics for Open Motorboats, PWC, and Other Vehicles

Exhibit II-5 presents registration and accident statistics for open motorboats, PWC, and other vessels during 2004.


C. Accidents Involving Personal Watercraft

Background

A personal watercraft is a small vessel that uses an internal combustion engine powering a jet pump or propeller. It is designed to carry from one to four persons, and to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.

The use of a PWC is subject to all state, local, and federal regulations governing the operation of all powerboats of similar size.

As of December 31, 2004, there were 159,335 PWC registered in California, comprising 18% of registered vessels. Exhibit II-6 (right) shows the total number of PWC registered in California from 1993 through 2004.

Findings
A total of 186 PWC-related accidents were reported in 2004, resulting in 148 injuries, 7 fatalities, and $293,300 in property damage. All totals were
lower than 2003 levels (261, 200, 12, and
483,500 respectively).

Exhibit II-6 | 1994-2003 PWC Registrations

Exhibit II-7 | 1994-2003 California PWC Accidents, Statistics

Exhibit II-7 presents a twelve-year summary for PWC accidents, injuries, fatalities, and property damage.

Exhibit II-8 | 2004 California PWC-Related Accidents by County

Exhibit II-8 presents 2004 reported PWC-related accidents by county.

Accounting for 18% of registered vessels, PWC were involved in 25% of accidents, 34% of injuries, 16% of fatalities, and 7% of property damage.

Accidents involving PWC continue to remain significantly lower than the 1997 totals of 391 accidents, a decrease of 52%.

As discussed in the previous section, accidents overall were down significantly in 2004, especially on lakes, where PWC accidents occur most often. A decrease in visitors to the lakes caused in part by low water levels may be responsible for a portion of the decrease in PWC accidents when compared to the 2003 totals.

However, for a number of years, PWC-related accidents have been on a downward trend. This long-standing decrease appears to be attributable mainly to two laws affecting PWC that took effect in January 1998. The first law prohibited activities such as wake jumping within 100 feet of another vessel, spraying down other vessels, and playing “chicken.” These activities now constitute endangerment of life, limb, and property. The second law raised the minimum age to operate a vessel of over 15 HP alone from 12 to 16 years of age. Since the vessel of choice of operators between 12 and 16 is the PWC, restricting this group’s ability to operate vessels has resulted in a decrease in PWC-related accidents. This reduction in accidents is also discussed in Accidents Involving Youths.

PWC accidents involving radical maneuvers such as wake jumping, donuts, and spraying other vessels fell from 88 in 1997 to 42 in 2004, a decrease of 52%.

Accidents involving youth operators fell from 120 in 1997 to 51 in 2004, a decrease of 58%.

Type and Cause of Accidents
Overall Accidents
Most reported PWC accidents involved collisions with other vessels (70%). 13% of accidents involved falls overboard and falls in the vessel and persons struck by boats each accounted for 9% of accidents.

An examination of the 131 collisions involving PWC reveals that 78 (60%) involved a PWC colliding with a second PWC.
The most common causes of all PWC accidents were operator inexperience (58%), operator inattention (55%), and excessive speed (55%). (Some accidents have more than one attributable cause.) All of these causes are operator-controllable factors.

Operator Age
PWC operators in the 11-20 age group were involved in more accidents than any other age group followed by the 21-30 age group.

Operator Owner Status
76% of PWC involved in accidents were operated by someone other than the registered owner (55% were borrowed and 21% were rented).


Boater Use Study
Several years ago, the Department noted the disproportionately high number of PWC-related accidents when compared to their registered numbers. For example, in 1994, PWC constituted 13% of the vessel population, but were involved in 36% of the accidents. However, if PWC spent more time underway than conventional boats, would the accident rate still be disproportionate? To answer this concern, the Department funded a study that was conducted by California State University Sacramento to survey boat owners to determine the amount of time boats were under way.

The study, conducted in 1995 and 1996, found that, for every day on the water, PWC spent 5.2 hours underway, while conventional vessels only spent 3.6 hours under way. However, when controlled for hours under way (that is, if conventional boats spent the same amount of time on the water as PWC), the study found that the number of accidents and injury-related accidents involving PWC still exceeded those involving conventional boats.

Since changes in law noted earlier in this chapter, the number of PWC-related accidents has decreased substantially in the last six years and the number of PWC accidents per hours under way has been approaching those of traditional vessels. In 2004, traditional vessels were involved in more accidents than PWC. The 2004 data revealed that:

  • When controlled for hours under way, there would have been one accident for every 824 traditional vessels operating on California waterways, compared to one accident for every 857 PWC.


Additional Safety Concerns
Many PWC operators do not realize that when they let off the throttle, they lose steering capability. Numerous accidents have resulted from this lack of knowledge.
PWC sometimes present a danger to their riders because of the craft’s lack of visibility when it capsizes. Riders who are attempting to remount their PWC are often not visible to other watercraft, and are liable to be struck by other vessels.
Although rare, lanyards sometimes present difficulties for operators. In one case, the operator fell overboard and was injured, rendering him unable to swim back to the craft. Since the lanyard was on his wrist, the passenger was unable to maneuver the craft to retrieve him. In other cases, lanyards became detached and could not be reattached quickly enough to avoid grounding or colliding with another vessel. These situations are rare, but noteworthy.


D. Accidents Involving Water Skiing

In this report, the term “water skiing” refers to all activities involving a vessel towing a person on a towline.

Findings
In 2004, a total of 118 accidents involving water skiing activities were reported to the Department, resulting in 106 injuries and 2 fatalities. The accidents accounted for 16% of all accidents, 24% of injuries, and 5% of fatalities. Water skiing accidents decreased 27% compared with 2003 totals.

In recent years, the sport of water skiing has evolved beyond traditional water skiing and now encompasses the towing of inner tubes, wakeboards, kneeboards, and air chairs. This year marked the fifth year that accidents involving wakeboards exceeded accidents involving traditional water skiing. In 2004, accidents involving vessels towing inner tubes exceeded both wakeboarding and traditional water skiing accidents. Accidents involving innertubes were involved in 41% of water skiing accidents, followed by wakeboarding (33%) and traditional water skiing (24%).
Accidents involving wakeboarding experienced the largest decrease from 2003, decreasing 46% followed by traditional water skiing which decreased 26%. Accidents involving inner tubes only decreased 4% in comparison.

Time and Location
95% of water skiing accidents occurred between May and September. 69% of water skiing-related accidents occurred in Northern California and 31% in Southern California. The most popular bodies of water were lakes (75%), followed by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (9%) and the southern coast (9%) and the Colorado River (4%).

Vessel Type and Length
Most water skiing accidents (94%) involved open motorboats between 16 and 25 feet in length, followed by PWC (4%) and cabin motorboats (2%).

Type and Cause of Accidents

Exhibit 11-9 | 2004 California Water Skiing Accidents by Situation

Exhibit II-9
provides a breakdown of the 2004 reported water skiing activities by situation.

Water skiing accidents, in which the skier was responsible for the accident, accounted for 51% of the accidents. These accidents most often involved inexperienced skiers, who were injured while attempting to stand up or who attempted maneuvers beyond their experience level.

49% of accidents involved a variety of unsafe behaviors, both by operators towing skiers and also by other vessels operating in the vicinity of vessels towing skiers. A number of accidents involved inappropriate handling of ski lines by operators and skiers. Consistent with other years, the most common situations involved:

Vessels not keeping appropriate distances from drifting vessels involved in assisting fallen skiers, thereby running over ski lines.

  • Operators commencing operation of vessels while ski lines are still in the water, causing the lines to become entangled in the propellers.
  • Operating too close to the shoreline while towing tubes, not realizing that the tubers cannot maneuver the tubes and causing them to strike the shoreline.
  • Operators towing tubes in donuts to provide the tubers with more exciting rides, but instead, running over the ski lines and pulling the tubes into the propellers.
  • Operators failing to notice that other vessels are towing skiers, causing collisions with skiers.
  • Operators looking over their shoulders, watching skiers instead of relying on the observers, resulting in collisions with other vessels or the shoreline.
  • Operators failing to secure tubes, resulting in their blowing overboard, tangling people in lines or wakeboards so that they fall off racks and injure people.


E. Accidents Involving Youths

Background
Throughout this report, “youths” refers to persons under 18 years of age.
From 1987 through 1997, California law required a person to be at least 12 years of age to operate a craft of more than 10 HP. If an operator was under 12, a person 18 years of age or older had to be on board the vessel.

In 1998, the law changed; it now requires the operator of a craft of more than 15 HP to be at least 16 years of age. Persons 12-15 may operate if a person of at least 18 years of age is attentively supervising aboard the vessel.

Note: Exceptions to this law include the operation of a sailboat that does not exceed 30 feet in length or a dinghy used directly between a moored boat and the shore, or between two moored boats.

Findings
During the 2004 boating season, youth operators were involved in 7% of all accidents, 10% of injuries, and 5% of fatalities.

Exhibit II-10 | 1993-2004 California Youth Operator Activities

Exhibit II-10 presents an eleven-year summary for youth operator accident statistics

The number of accidents involving youths had remained consistent for three years prior to the 1998 boating season. However, since the previously mentioned operator age limit increase took effect in January 1998, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of accidents involving operators under 16 years of age. The total number is 58% lower than the number reported in 1997.

Of the 65 youth operators involved in accidents, 32 (49%) were under the age of 16, and two were under the age of 12. Of the operators younger than 16 years of age, 72% were operating illegally by either not having an adult on board, or, when the operator was younger than 12, operating the vessel under any circumstance. The percentage of underage operators operating illegally has increased from 54% in 2003.

Type and Cause of Accidents
Collisions (67%) were the primary type of accident involving youth operators, followed by persons struck by boats (10%), falls overboard (6%) and skier mishaps (6%).
The most common cause of accidents involving youth operators was operator inexperience (63%). Operator inexperience was a factor in only 28% of accidents involving operators of all ages. Excessive speed was the second most common cause, followed by operator inattention.

Vessel Type
The vast majority (83%) of youth operators involved in accidents were operating PWC. An additional 15% were operating open motorboats.

Fault Assessment
Youth operators were involved in 34 collisions with other vessels. Most of these collisions (65%) involved youth operators colliding with adult operators. Youth operators were exclusively at fault in 73% of these collisions, compared to 18% for adult operators. An additional 9% of accidents between youth and adult operators involved shared fault.

Additional Safety Concern
Very young children riding on PWC can present serious safety problems. While riding in front of an operator, a child has easy access to the vessel controls and can easily manipulate them. Such situations have resulted in accidents. Seating a young child behind a PWC operator is unsafe as well, because he or she can easily fall overboard.
Additionally, a lanyard was left attached on a drifting, unoccupied PWC. A small child playing in the area climbed aboard, pressed the start button and shot across the water, striking a swimmer, who later died of serious head injuries.


F. Fatal Boating Accidents

Findings
In 2004, 44 fatalities occurred on California waterways. This represents 4.9 fatalities per 100,000 registered vessels. The number of fatalities decreased from 61 in 2003 (6.3 per 100,000 registered vessels).

Type and Cause of Accidents
The most common type of fatal accident involved vessels capsizing (36%), collisions with vessels (23%) and falls overboard (20%). Operator inattention (57%), hazardous weather/water conditions (34%), excessive speed (32%), and operator inexperience (23%), were the primary causes of fatalities. 68% of the victims drowned. Of that group, 70% were not wearing a life jacket.

Time and Location
The largest number of fatalities occurred in September. 30% of fatalities occurred during the off-season of October through April. 45% of fatalities occurred on a Saturday or Sunday, and an additional 18% occurred on the Monday of the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. 39% of fatalities occurred on lakes, 27% occurred on oceans/bays, 18% occurred on the Colorado River, 11% on other rivers throughout the State, and 5% occurred in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. 55% of fatalities occurred in Northern California compared with 45% in Southern California.

Vessel Type and Length
Over half (52%) of the vessels involved in fatal accidents were open motorboats, followed by PWC (18%), paddle craft (9%), and cabin motorboats (7%). Even though PWC were involved in 25% of all accidents, they were not involved in as many fatalities. PWC operators are more likely to wear life jackets, which may explain the lower fatality rate. Nearly all vessels involved in fatal accidents were less than 26 feet in length (86%).

Victim Activity
Exhibit II-11 | 2004 California Boating Fatalities by Type of Accident and Life Jacket Usage

Exhibit II-11
presents boating fatalities by type of activity and life jacket usage.

Fishing-Related Fatalities
Fishing-related fatalities accounted for 34% of boating fatalities in 2004. All victims drowned. 60% were not wearing a life jacket. One victim was wearing an inflatable life jacket that did not inflate. It appears he did not have a chance to inflate it before becoming incapacitated.

The majority (80%) of victims of fishing-related accidents were boating in Northern California. The most common location of these accidents were coastal areas, followed by lakes and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

The majority of the fishing-related fatalities occurred as a result of vessels capsizing (60%) or victims falling overboard (27%).

Carbon Monoxide-Related Fatalities
The inhalation of carbon monoxide fumes was a factor in one fatality in 2004. During the last several years, some victims have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dangerous behaviors include:

  • Leaning over the stern of the vessel while the engine is engaged
  • Teak surfing (body surfing by holding onto the swim step of a vessel that is under way and then letting go and surfing the vessel’s wake.)
  • Improper ventilation in an enclosed cabin
  • Swimming near the stern of a vessel whose engine is engaged.

Boating fatalities involving carbon monoxide may be much higher than reported. In the past, some drowning accidents thought to be swimming-related may have involved carbon monoxide. The Department is increasing educational efforts to educate boaters and accident investigators about carbon monoxide in the boating environment.


G. Alcohol Use and Fatal Boating Accidents

Background
In 1987, state law made it illegal to operate a recreational vessel with a blood alcohol level of 0.10% or more. In 1991, the legal limit was decreased to 0.08%. Furthermore, a “boating under the influence” conviction now appears on Department of Motor Vehicles records and can be used to suspend or revoke a vehicle driver’s license.

For the purpose of this analysis, only fatal boating accidents were analyzed for alcohol relatedness. A person with a blood alcohol level of 0.035% or higher is assumed to be “under the influence.” The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that when the concentration of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream reaches this level, noticeable changes in judgment and operational competency occur.

As was discussed earlier, testing was not conducted on all victims due to delayed accident reporting or delayed body recovery, which can alter blood alcohol levels.

Findings
Of the 44 fatalities, blood alcohol information was available in 34 of the cases. Of these 34 cases, 13 victims or operators (38%) had blood alcohol levels equal to or greater than 0.035%.

Type and Cause of Accidents
The majority of alcohol-related boating fatalities were the result of collisions with vessels (38%), vessels capsizing (31%) and falls overboard (15%). Excessive speed (77%), Operator inattention (69%), and restricted vision (54%) were the leading causes of accidents. (Some accidents had more than one cause.) 46% of the victims drowned. Of this group, none were not wearing life jackets.

Type of Vessel
A total of 12 vessels were involved in these accidents, all of which were motorized. The two most common types of vessels involved were open motorboats (58%) and PWC (25%). 92% of all vessels involved were less than 26 feet in length.

Time and Location
Of the 13 alcohol-related fatalities, 77% occurred on weekends or the Monday following a 3-day weekend. 92% occurred in Southern California.

Activity
One alcohol-related fatalities took place during a fishing trip, one took place when someone was swimming from a boat. The rest of the victims
were engaged in general boating recreation.

Profile of Intoxicated Boaters
An examination of the 13 alcohol-related fatalities reveals that 4 were operators, 8 were passengers, and one was a swimmer. As in previous years, several of the passengers contributed to their deaths due to their level of alcohol consumption.

These findings relating to intoxicated passengers were consistent with findings from other years. Passengers who are under the influence often put themselves in dangerous positions in the boating environment, engaging in activities such as leaning over or sitting on gunwales or jumping from one vessel to another. Additionally, intoxicated passengers often stand in or move about in vessels, causing them to fall overboard, or the vessel to capsize, placing all aboard in danger. Persons also swim too close to propellers, causing danger to themselves.

These situations underscore the Department’s long-held view that a sober operator does not ensure passenger safety. Intoxicated persons in or around vessels are exposed to dangers that would not affect the safety of intoxicated passengers in a vehicle. The “designated driver” concept, which is popular in some boating safety literature, has its roots in automobile safety where the possibility of falling overboard and drowning (or in some years, swimming too close to the propeller) is not a factor. Therefore, based upon the findings of these fatalities and others from other years, the Department recommends that neither operators nor passengers drink alcoholic beverages while boating.

Alcohol-Related Fatalities Involving Motorized Vessels
In January 1986, the Department submitted the Boating Safety Report to the California Legislature. This report analyzed alcohol-related boating accidents between November 1, 1983 and October 31, 1985, and concluded that 59% of all fatalities involving motorized vessels were alcohol-related (where testing could be conducted).

The Department conducted a second alcohol-related boating accident study between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 1994. This study concluded that 23% of all fatalities involving motorized vessels were alcohol related, a significant reduction from the 1986 study.

Table II-1 |
1993-2004 Alcohol-Related Fatalities Involving Motorized Vessels


Table II-1
shows the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities involving motorized vessels (where alcohol-related testing could be conducted) from 1993 to 2004. In 2004, 31 of the 34 victims tested for alcohol-relatedness were killed in accidents involving motorized vessels. Of that group, 13 (42%) were alcohol-related.

 
Division of Boating and Water Ways | 2004 California Boating Safety Report