May 2006

What Is The # 1 Cause Of Boating Accidents In Arizona?

By Tonya Norwood-Pearson
Arizona Game &Fish Department
Boating Education Program Manager

As soon as the words "boating" and "accident" are placed together in a sentence, one vision comes to mind: reckless boaters clutching cans of beer.

Operating your vessel while under the influence is definitely a problem. Local law-enforcement officers are addressing this problem in a commendable and effective way.

However, alcohol is no longer recognized as public enemy No. 1 ó people are.

Did you know the Arizona Boating Safety Report has identified the top three causes of recreational boating accidents in order of frequency as operator inexperience, operator inattention, and careless or reckless operation?

These operator errors result in significant yearly increases in property damage, injuries, and even death. There is a way to combat operator error: education.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers boating-education courses year round at locations throughout the state.

Last year, the fourth week of May (in 2006, it runs May 20-26) was declared Arizona Safe Boating Week. In part, the declaration states:

"Whereas, on an average, 700 people die each year in boating-related accidents in the U.S.; nearly 70 percent of these are fatalities are caused by drowning (non-use of life jackets).

"Whereas, the vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error or poor judgment and not by the boat, equipment, or environmental factors."

My fellow boating enthusiasts, letís keep a good day good by wearing our life jackets and taking a boating-education class.