Experts Say Boater Education and New Boating Technology Are Key to Reducing Boating Accidents and Fatalities

ORLANDO, Fla., July 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As pandemic conditions generated a surge of 415,000 first-time boat buyers (Info-Link) in…

ORLANDO, Fla., July 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As pandemic conditions generated a surge of 415,000 first-time boat buyers (Info-Link) in 2020 — a 35% increase — recently released U.S. Coast Guard figures indicate a 26% increase in boating accidents, 25% increase in injuries and 25% increase in boating fatalities during the same time period. 

Jim Emmons, executive director of the Water Sports Foundation, an organization dedicated to boating safety and education, said the increase, as tragic as it is, likely is the result of so many more boaters spending more hours on the water in 2020. To reduce accidents, fatalities, and injuries, he advocates a strong push for new boater education.

«Boater safety and education is a critical component to boat operation and ownership,» he said. «U.S. Coast Guard statistics confirm that 77% of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had no safety instruction. That number drops to only 12% when the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. It’s a no brainer: in-person and online boater education courses dramatically improve a boater’s chance for a safe and fun time on the water this summer.»

In addition to boater education, Emmons points to a long list of new safety technology introduced by the marine industry in the last 20 years which has made boating safer and more enjoyable than ever. The list includes comfortable auto-inflatable life jackets, man-overboard alarms, personal locator beacons, anti-collision radar, GPS navigation and more.

«We all love the freedom and family bonding time boating provides,» said Emmons. «But, without the right preparation and equipment there are risks. The technology introduced in the past 20 years has dramatically reduced those risks while increasing the fun factor on the water.»

One of the more recent developments is the emergency cut-off switch (ECOS), which automatically shuts off a boat’s engine if the operator goes overboard. The device connects a boat’s operator to the cutoff switch with a lanyard or wireless proximity device. As of April 1, 2021, federal law requires a vessel operator to use ECOS on most new vessels less than 26 feet when underway, on plane. ECOS also can be installed on boats that do not have it as original equipment from the manufacturer.

The Water Sports Foundation encourages boaters to take advantage of the latest boating safety technology including the following: 

  • Comfortable Auto Inflatable Life Jackets
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
  • Man Overboard Alarm
  • Emergency Cut Off Switch (ECOS)
  • Anti-Collision Radar
  • Night Vision
  • Automatic Identification System (AIS)
  • GPS Touch Screen Navigation


Water Sports Foundation Media Contact:

Wanda Kenton Smith, 407.697.8055,

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SOURCE Water Sports Foundation