Number Of Arizona Recreational Boating Accidents Falling

May 14, 2014

Recreational boating accidents decreased 10 percent nationwide since 2012, according to a report from the U.S. Coast Guard.

On the whole, Arizona has seen fewer boating accidents in the last five years. In 2009, there were 151. Last year, there were 95.

Kevin Bergersen from the Game and Fish Department said the state has worked hard to educate Arizonans on boating safety.

But he said there could be another reason for fewer boating accidents.

“A certain amount of the decrease in boat accident rates could be correlated to a decline in overall use on those waterways,” Bergersen said. “We do know that overall boat registrations are declining in the State of Arizona and in California. So there is a dropoff in use.”

Bergersen said boat registrations have been falling since 1998. There were 158,000 registered boats that year. This year, 125,000.

The same report from the Coast Guard said the number of recreational boating deaths has gone up in Arizona, from three in 2012 to nine in 2013.

Bergersen said “paddlers” are the fastest growing class of boats. It includes kayaks and canoes. As that class grows, Bergersen said it contributes to the growing fatal accident rate.

“Over the last 10 years, paddlers, kayakers and canoers represent almost 25 percent of our fatalities,” Bergersen said. “Whereas, that industry had been nonrepresentative in our boat accident statistics.”

Bergersen said the availability of inexpensive paddler boats has made the class significantly more popular since the recession.

Arizona boaters can find more information about free boating safety courses at this website: http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/boating.shtml