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Accident Response Tips: Media
Reporters

Media plays a critical supporting role in recreational boating safety.

There’s no doubt that reporters and the media play a vital role in boating safety. By writing cautionary tales of boat accident victims and survivors, they can affect change. These stories encourage others to be proactive in their own boating safety efforts by offering safe boating courses or participating in safety events, or on a personal level by taking more responsibility on one’s boat.

In addition, by reporting on accidents, reporters help provide safety metrics imperative to the work of state agencies and boating safety organizations across the United States. News media stories are sifted through in an attempt to identify reportable incidents and compare that information with the Boat Accident Report Database (BARD).

Studies have provided estimates of underreporting of accidents. “Recent Research on Recreational Boating Accidents and the Contribution of Boating Under the Influence,” produced by Bruce A. Lawrence, Ted R. Miller, and L. Daniel Maxim in 2006, provided estimates of the degree of underreported injuries by two thresholds. The authors suggested that 19.7% of hospital-admitted injuries were not reported as required, and that as many as 93% of lesser injury accidents were not reported. They based their estimates from a comparison of U.S. Coast Guard data with hospital data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

+ ELEMENTS OF BOAT ACCIDENT REPORTING

Tracking information on accidents can be tricky if important elements are missing from a story. Agencies or organizations that track boat accident reports find it incredibly helpful to have the following elements within the reported incident:

  • Date and time of incident
  • Name of the body of water, county, and state on which the accident occurred
  • A description of what happened
  • Number of casualties (injured and deceased victims)
  • Names of individuals involved (operators, casualty victims)
  • Names of vessels involved
  • A description of the vessel that includes the length and type of vessel (canoe, kayak, standup paddleboard, open motorboat, cabin motorboat, pontoon, houseboat, airboat)
  • Name of responding agencies

Having the aforementioned elements quickens the process of tracking boat accident data, which in turn, supports accurate analysis of safety data.

+ NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS, DEATHS, INJURIES, AND LOSES OF VESSELS CAPTURED IN NEWS MEDIA SOURCES

This table reflects the number of accidents, deaths, injuries, and losses of vessels that were captured in news media sources in 2015 that met reporting requirements for which the U.S. Coast Guard did not receive the required Boating Accident Report from the operator.

 Accident  Deaths  Injuries

Vessel Loss

 Damages

AZ 2 0 2 0 $0
CA 2 0 1 1 $202,765
CO 1 1 0 0 $0
FL 4 3 2 0 $0
GA 3 3 1 0 $0
IL 1 0 1 0 $0
IN 3 2 1 0 $0
KY 1 1 1 0 $0
LA 2 2 2 0 $0
MD 1 1 3 0 $0
ME 1 0 1 0 $0
MI 2 2 0 0 $0
NC 1 0 1 0 $0
NE 1 0 0 1 $0
NV 2 1 1 0 $0
PR 5 5 5 0 $0
TX 19 11 8 1 $107,720
VI 2 2 5 0 $22,370
Offshore, Atlantic Ocean 16 0 5 5 $3,384,770
Offshore, Gulf of Mexico 5 2 2 1 $66,795
Offshore, Pacific Ocean 3 0 2 1 $762,650
Nationally 77 36 44 10 $4,547,070
*Table taken from U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2015
+ TOP 10 PRIMARY CONTRIBUTING FACTORS IN BOATING ACCIDENTS
  1. Operator inattention
  2. Operator inexperience
  3. Improper lookout
  4. Machinery failure
  5. Excessive speed
  6. Alcohol use
  7. Navigation rules violation
  8. Sharp turn
  9. Restricted vision
  10. Failure to vent

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2015