Reckless cruising, inexperience made 2018 deadliest year for NC boaters, I-Team learns

FARRINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina's waterways are getting more crowded and more dangerous according to new data obtained by the ABC11 I-Team.

The new information from the N.C. Wildlife Commission's Law Enforcement Division reports 192 boating crashes in 2018, killing 35 people and injuring 97 others. The number of crashes is the most since 2006, while the number of fatalities is the most since 1998.

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As of July 9, 2019, there have been 61 non-fatal crashes and nine fatal.

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The state's inter-coastal waterways experienced the greatest number of incidents, followed by Lake Norman, Jordan Lake, Bogue Inlet and Roanoke River/Sound.

Perhaps surprisingly, alcohol was not a factor in the vast majority of incidents, both fatal and non-fatal. Instead, officials cite rough waters, operator inexperience, operator inattention and reckless boating as the leading causes of crashes. Many of those killed were not wearing life jackets.

Among the other significant findings, the report reveals a staggering discrepancy in the number of registered boats versus the number of boat operators who have taken and passed a boater safety certification course. In 2018, a record 378,142 boats were registered (including jet-skis and other personal watercrafts) but only 14,761 operators received certification from safety courses - just 3.9% of registered owners.

North Carolina law mandates all boat operators born after January 1, 1988, pass a safety course, which are offered online by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadrons and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
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