S.P.I.N. Stop Propeller Injuries Now Propeller Injury Information
S top Propeller Strikes
P rovide Support to Survivors
I nform and Educate Public Policy Legislators and Regulatory Agencies
N etwork with Victims and Their Families to Enhance Boating Safety
Stop Propeller Injuries Now Stop Propeller Injuries Now
Propeller Injury Statistics
Click Here for Latest Stats from US Coast Guard

SPIN SEARCH: Based upon information available to SPIN from on-line newspaper research for the summer of 2004, OUR CHILDREN ARE MOST AT RISK!!

32 prop accidents or deaths were reviewed.
40% involved children or young adults (16-19).

The U.S. Coast Guard is charged to collect, collate and publish accident and death statistics yearly. This data is collected from information received by state boating law administrators, published reports, etc. The previous calendar year is often not available until the following October.

At the time of this writing, the following summary, prepared by SPIN, is based on a special computation by the Coast Guard statistician from USCG Bard information 1998 - 2002. This report is not published, but may be obtained from the Bruce Schmidt at the Office of Boating and Safety, www.uscgboating.org

The main points of this report are:

  1. 43% of the injuries occur in lakes.
  2. The major accident locations by state are: Florida 14% and California 10%. States with short boating seasons and/or strong education programs have demonstratively less accidents. Rhode Island, a mandatory license and education state, reported no prop accident.
  3. The top three Accident Types resulting in prop strikes are: struck by motor/propeller (43%), falls overboard (31%), skier mishap (10%)
  4. The top five causes of the accident are: operator inattention (24%), passenger or skier behavior (11%), operator inexperience (10%), careless/reckless operation (10%) and alcohol use(7%).
  5. AGE of victim: 36% are 20 and under. That is 292 of the 812 total injuries.
  6. Type of Boat: 74% of all the accidents occurred in a propeller drive open motorboat. 65% of these boats were 20'and under.
  7. Type of injury: laceration (76%), broken bones (7%), head injury (6%), amputation (3%). First aid was required in 95% of the cases. No figures are available for hospitalization. SPIN has requested this information for 10 years so that a proper cost benefit analysis can justify regulation.


  1. 51% of the fatalities occur in lakes.
  2. Florida (17%), Louisiana (7%), California (6%), Wisconsin (6%).
  3. Top four types of accident are: falls overboard (44%), struck by motor/propeller(13%), collision with Vessel (13%), Skier mishap (7%).
  4. Top five causes of accident: alcohol (19%), operator inattention (14%), careless/reckless operation (10%), excessive speed (10%).
  5. AGE of victim. 24% are 20 and under. That is 39 of 164.
  6. Type of Boat. 75% of all accidents occurred in a propeller driven open motorboat. 68% of these boats were 20' and under.
  7. Type of injury: not stated

Propeller related accidents and deaths represent for this 4 year time period 4% of all accidents (21,618) and fatalities (3,681). This figure is higher than previously acknowledged by prior statistics.

It is SPIN'S position that the U.S. Coast Guard could prevent most (80% by their estimate) fatalities by the mandatory wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. That still leaves 20% of which 4% of the total is 20%, a significant figure, for which no effective education nor regulation exists to prevent propeller injuries and fatalities.

The failure to collect data on the costs of these accidents: loss of work, hospitalization, operations, rehab, prosthesis, follow up, prevents effective justification for regulatory action, which requires cost/benefit analysis. SPIN believes the medical expenses alone for survivors of a major prop strike are in excess of one million dollars during a lifetime. Phyllis Kopytko is talking proof of this.

The Coast Guard, despite urging from SPIN, has still not participated in the national NEISS program for the purpose of collecting information directly from emergency rooms, etc. The results of the grant to the American Nurses Association have been outstanding for several years. While USCG believes it has knowledge of the most serious accidents, previous grantees concluded that the Coast Guard collects 10% (Blue Cross) to as low as 4% (Marine Index Bureau). Recent scanning of on-line newspaper stories may be capturing some additional data.

Lake Model Concept. Since the majority of accidents occur on inland lakes, a target program could be developed and monitored in a controlled environment. SPIN suggested such a Model Lake Program in l994. There was neither encouragement nor discussion. It seems so obvious that if you pick one federal lake and apply and enforce safety precepts, that we could have a very positive field study of results to present to law makers at the state level as well. Is this just too simple???

S.P.I.N. Stop Propeller Injuries Now
S.P.I.N. - Stop Propeller Injuries Now
2365 Conejo Court
Los Osos, CA, 93402
tel. 805-528-0554 - fax. 805-526-8756
email:  info@spin-site.org