Agents Say Michigan Boating Deaths Hit 5-Year High in 2007

Boating deaths in Michigan reached a 5-year high last year, according to the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents.

The report said 35 Michigan boaters were killed last year. That was up from 29 in 2006, though down from the 38 reported deaths in 2002.

The report also found that boating accidents dropped slightly to 193 last year from 198 in 2006. Likewise, fewer people were injured, 105 compared with 115.

The association said alcohol use remains a problem, with 28 alcohol-related accidents last year. It also said that wearing life jackets is one of the most effective ways to reduce the number of boating deaths: Only 10 of the boaters who died last year were known to be wearing them.

“Whenever people consume alcohol and operate a boat, bad things usually happen,” association spokesman Gary Mitchell said in a statement. “Failing to wear life jackets and alcohol consumption are the biggest problems facing boaters in the state.”

Statistically, most boating accidents happen during a Saturday afternoon in July.

The most common cause of boating accidents were collisions between vessels. There were 54 reported collisions last year, followed by 27 incidents of boaters falling overboard and 14 of boats capsizing.

Michigan’s boat registrations peaked in 2001 at 1,003,947. The state had 944,138 registered boats in 2005, ranking third after Florida and California, and had 830,735 registered boats in 2007.