The boating industry has a long history of misleading the public and authorities by providing recreational boat propeller accident counts much lower than the official accident statistics provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Several of these instances result from the industry falsely using Event 1 only statistics to represent the total number of propeller accidents, injuries, or fatalities. U.S. Coast Guard reports accidents as a sequence of events (like Event 1 = collision with submerged object, Event 2 = fell overboard, Event 3 = struck by propeller). Most propeller accidents tend to be reported as Event 2 or Event 3 accidents. Something else happens first, like a collision with fixed object, collision with submerged object, collision with floating object, collision with recreational vessel, falls overboard, etc, then the person is struck by the propeller.
We highlighted a table from USCG’s 2010 Boating Statistics below as an example.
USCG’s 2010 Table 17 above shows 179 accidents, 27 deaths, and 178 injuries from Person Struck by Propeller. The industry keeps wanting to use the Event 1 data only to the left (49 people struck).
From 2003 through 2012, there have been about 49 to 107 Event 1 propeller accidents per year with about 1 to 8 fatalities per year resulting from those Event 1 accidents.
However, during the same years there have been a total of about 176 to 266 propeller accidents per year with about 19 to 47 fatalities per year resulting from those accidents per USCG.
When the industry only cites Event 1 accidents they are significantly misrepresenting the total number of reported propeller accidents.
We have covered some instances of the boating industry misrepresenting these statistics in the past. We recently encountered another one, and decided to pull some of them together into this post.
- Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine propeller accident expert and industry expert witness – 1988 presentation and letters concerning the upcoming 1989 USCG National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) Propeller Guard Subcommittee Report.
- Bill Calore, General Counsel Volvo Penta – Presentation to NBSAC 1996.
- Ralph Lambrecht, longtime OMC technician and industry expert – Boat and Motor Dealer. Sep/Oct 2006.
- Don Kueny, OMC Chief Marine Engineer – the June 2009 Audrey Decker trial.
- Pete Chisholm, Mercury Marine / Brunswick Corporation – the Jacob Brochtrup trial (April 2010) and in Brunswick’s request for a rehearing (June 2011).