Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2016

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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61 Spring 2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings Personal Watercraft Data: A Five-Year Study (2009–2013) Each year, the Coast Guard receives reports of accidents that occur on U.S. waterways. Personal watercraft safety is a hot topic for good reason, as indicated by the following fndings: ● Personal watercraft account for roughly one-fifth of the vessels involved in these accidents, ranking second behind open motorboats. ○ There are roughly 1,000,000 PWCs registered in the U.S., which is 9 percent of motorized vessel registra- tion and less than 5 percent of the overall number of recreational vessels. ○ Deaths on PWCs represent 6.5 percent of deaths; injuries on PWCs make up 24.5 percent of injured victims. ● Collisions with other vessels are common accident occur- rences; roughly 60 percent of all personal watercraft involved in accidents occur in this manner. Many times, PWC operators fail to keep a proper lookout, and quite frequently, two or more personal watercraft operators loop around each other playfully at high speeds. When one operator turns sharply and lets of the gas, a shield of spray hinders the other's ability to see well. With this lack of visibility, the other operator doesn't know to take evasive action, leading to a crash. ● Many other collisions are caused by inexperience. Many PWCs do not allow the user to steer the boat without the throttle engaged; consequently, if an operator sees that a crash is imminent, often his or her gut reaction is to let of the throttle and turn. However, when the oper- ator lets of the throttle, he or she usually loses steering ability, and the vessel continues in the same direction as before, often crashing into the thing the operator was trying to avoid. Luckily, many new personal water- craft are designed to provide the operator with steering ability even if he or she chooses to let of the throttle. ● Falling out of the boat, either by force (for example, when a wave hits a boat) or by gravity, is another common occurrence involving PWCs. Roughly one out of every six personal watercraft involved in an accident had someone either forcibly ejected from the boat or someone who fell of the boat as the frst event in the accident. Oftentimes, a person will sufer an injury from impacting the handlebars after hitting a wave, or sufer an injury from getting a foot stuck while being ejected. Very rarely, serious internal injury can occur when a person falls of the back of the PWC and into the path of its high-pressure water jet. ● There have been an average of 44 deaths a year on PWC. Trauma is the most frequently listed cause of death, accounting for more than half of this number. ● There have been more than 700 injured victims a year on PWCs. Common injuries include broken bones, cuts, bruises, concussions, and sprains/strains. ● Personal watercraft operators range in age from preteens to senior citizens approaching their 80s. The average age of operators involved in PWC fatalities is 37 years old. The average age of operators sustaining injuries in nonfatal accidents is 31 years old. ○ In fatal and nonfatal injury accidents, the average age of PWC operators (37 and 31, respectively, as described in the bullet above) was much lower than the average age for all boats combined. The average age of operators in fatal accidents was 46; 39 years old was the average for nonfatal accidents. House- boat and sailboat operators had the highest average age of operators, and for both fatal and nonfatal accidents, 50-plus was the average age of operators on these craft. ○ The average age of deceased PWC victims is 35 years old. The average age of injured victims on personal watercraft is 28 years old, which is much lower than the average age of victims on all boats combined. The average age of a deceased victim is 44 years old, and the average age of an injured victim is 34 years old. Bibliography: For more information on online data search abilities, visit https://bard.cns-inc.com/ Screens/PublicInterface/Report1.aspx. personal fotation devices, and the rental company provided an orientation detailing the proper operation of the vessel and a description of the tour. The man and woman then left the marina, led by a tour guide who was on a separate personal watercraft. Story 2: Excursion Gone Wrong On Saturday, September 28, 2013, a man and a woman rented a personal watercraft around 5:45 p.m. in Clearwater, Florida, as part of a "One-Hour Free Play" package. During the excursion orientation, the man said he'd had experience operating a personal watercraft in India. The renters put on

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