According to a report compiled and published May 1 by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 154 boating accidents statewide during 2010. That represented no increase from 2009.
The 154 accidents involved 208 vessels, causing 123 people to need medical treatment.
Most accidents - 131 - were classified as nonfatal, but 23 fatal accidents resulted in 26 deaths.
At year's end, 314,105 boats were registered statewide, a decrease of 53,899 from 2009.
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Closer to home, 36,854 boats were registered in the four counties that touch Lake Norman, down from 43,339 in 2009. A breakdown by county shows Mecklenburg with 13,937, Iredell 10,981, Catawba 6,987 and Lincoln 4,949.
Lake Norman had 11 boating accidents, ranking it second in the state behind the Intracoastal Waterway, which had 18. The good news is that no fatal boating accidents were listed for Lake Norman.
Statewide, the leading type of fatal accident - 10 - took place when the victim either jumped or fell overboard. The leading types of nonfatal accidents, accounting for 58 cases, were collisions with other vessels or with fixed objects.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed and careless/reckless operation also caused significant numbers of nonfatal accidents.
The number of students completing boater-education courses jumped dramatically in 2010. Boater education certificates were issued to 31,253 students, compared to 17,328 the previous year.
The 2010 regulation requiring any boat operator younger than 26 to complete an approved boating-safety course was a major factor in the increase.
The regulation was long overdue, as seen in the fact that only 62 of the boat operators involved in all 154 accidents statewide - 40 percent - had completed an approved course.
The 2010 report should be a red flag to boaters, particularly the statistics on operator inattention, careless/reckless driving and the failure of many boaters to get educated in boater safety.
Safe boating is no accident. Do your part to make Lake Norman a safer place to navigate and enjoy.
The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron will conduct a boater-safety training class at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Department, 1577 Mecklenburg Highway, Mooresville. The cost is $45. Advance registration is required. For information visit www.usps.org/lakenorman.com or call 704-660-5568.
A free safe-boating class, "How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night," will meet 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 17 at North Point Watersports, off Interstate 77 Exit 36 in Mooresville. Topics for discussion will include "Understanding Lake Norman's Channel Marker and Buoy System," "Identifying and Learning How to Avoid the 10 Most Dangerous Spots" and "Interpreting Lake Maps." For information call me at 704-617-6812 or email Gus@LakeNoman.com.
For more information about approved boating-safety courses, visit the following websites:
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, www.ncwildlife.org.
U.S. Power Squadron, www.usps.org.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, www.uscgaux.org.
Lighthouse Marine Service, www.Lmservice.org.