Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Alcohol, capsized boats, no safety equipment common themes in summer recreation deaths

Dufferin County, ON (OPP - Dufferin Detachment) A ten-year snapshot into boating and off-road incidents investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has revealed that capsized boats and lack of safety equipment have been the most common factors in fatal boating incidents while alcohol leads the list of factors in off-road vehicle (ORV) incidents.

With summer just getting started, the OPP is sharing some fatality data associated with two of Ontario's most popular summer recreational activities.

Over the past ten years (2005 – 2014), 276 people have lost their lives in 245 boating incidents and 167 people have died in 165 ORV incidents in OPP jurisdiction.

Marine fatalities
The ten-year data revealed that a capsized boat was the leading cause in 78 of the 245 boating incidents. Occupants falling overboard was the second leading cause with 76 such incidents. Alcohol was found to be the primary cause of 26 boating mishaps and a swamped vessel placed fourth with 14 occurrences.

The most concerning data is that -- over the ten-year period -- life jackets and personal floatation devices (PFD) were extremely under-utilized, with 226 of the 276 deceased not wearing one at the time of the incident. Sadly, many of the victims may have otherwise survived their ordeal had they chosen to wear this important life saving equipment.

The majority of the boating victims were male (254) and 22 of them were female. Of those killed, 177 were the boat operator, 87 were passengers and in seven of the incidents, it was not known if the victim was a driver or a passenger. The other five victims were not occupants in the boat involved in the incident.

ORV fatalities
ORV fatality data revealed that 77 of the 167 fatalities were alcohol or drug-related. Not wearing a helmet was not far behind with 74 of the deaths being linked to this factor. Speed was a contributing factor in 51 of the incidents over the ten-year period.

Most of the victims were the driver of the ORV (153) and 14 were passengers. Of those who died, 143 were males and 24 were females.

What the Data Tells Us
According to OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support, many of these 443 boaters and ORV riders may have been alive today had they made better decisions for themselves and their passengers before and during their outdoor adventure.

"Our data could not make it any clearer that the risks to all and the consequences for some do not change from year-to-year when mixing boating and off-roading with alcohol or drugs, driving carelessly, and not being equipped or prepared to survive an unexpected life-threatening turn of events on the water and on the trails," said Blair.