Recreational Boating Fatalities at All-time Low - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Recreational Boating Fatalities at All-time Low

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- As the weather warms up, more boaters are getting out on the water and there's some good news about boater safety this year. A recent study shows that recreational boating fatalities are at an all-time low.

The U.S. Coast Guard says 2012 saw the lowest number of boating fatalities on record with a rate of 6 deaths per 100,000 that's a 13 % decrease from 2011.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office says local trends also reflect the nationwide decrease.

The sheriff's office attributes safer boating to state and federal efforts.

Washington state requires each driver to have a boater education card and federal grant money allows Benton County to increase patrols on the river during the summer.

"We're able to increase our enforcement as well as Franklin County and Walla Walla County and such. I think that had a great impact on a decrease in the number of dangerous drivers, alcohol use," said Lt. Chuck Jones, Benton County Sheriff's Office.

The coast guard says boating under the influence of alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boat accidents.

And 84% of drowning fatalities happened when the victim wasn't wearing a life jacket.

Jones says they'll be out patrolling the river this summer looking for people violating boating laws.

He says these patrols are paying off and the numbers prove it.