If you’re afraid of dying, there are a number of activities you might want to avoid: playing roulette with a real gun, for example, doing stunts without protective gear or sword-swallowing.
Boating, on the other hand, doesn’t rank very high on the list of dangerous activities. Yet during the last month, two boating crashes have resulted in deaths.
Two weeks ago, five people died when their 38-foot vessel was hit by two waves near the Farallon Islands. And now, in a Saturday boat race leaving from Newport Beach, four crew members are believed to be dead after their boat disappeared, likely after a collision with larger ship. Three of the bodies were discovered Saturday afternoon among debris near the Coronado Islands.
But consider how rare this is: in 2010, only six accidents of recreational boaters were reported by the Coast Guard in the Pacific Ocean. Of those six crashes, only one person died. Sailboats, similarly, accounted for only two deaths that year.
Compare that to nearly 32,788 people who died in traffic fatalities that year — the lowest figure since 1949 — and you’ll see why you’re mathematically safer on water than you are on asphalt.
The Coast Guard says that when boating accidents do occur, it’s often because boaters lack proper skills, drink alcohol, head into dangerous waters or don’t pay attention. That sounds a lot like people who drive — except on the road, there are far more drunken or distracted idiots to worry about.
I’ll take my chances with a boat.