Last year was the safest ever for boaters. Thirty-four people lost their lives in boating accidents, which is well below the annual average.
“In September we estimated that last year could become the safest boating year ever and, wonderfully, this is how things also turned out. It is hoped that the same positive development in safety also continues during future boating seasons”, says Head of Unit Ville Räisänen.
Compared to earlier years, there was also a small fall in the total number of accidents recorded in statistics, but in fatal accidents the decrease as a percentage was particularly significant.
There was a clear decrease in rowing boat accidents. According to statistics on water traffic accidents, 34 persons were lost in boating accidents in 2017 while a year previously the equivalent number was 48. In total, 36 persons were lost in traffic accidents last year, two of which were in merchant shipping.
In most of the accidents, the cause was capsizing or listing of a motor boat. In contrast, there were only seven fatal rowing boat accidents last year, which is significantly less than in the previous year when there were 20.
“This an especially positive development. Hopefully, this also indicates a change in the safety culture and that lifejackets have become of integral part of fishing trips in rowing boats on the shore of the summer cottage", Räisänen says.
Weather conditions also affect the amount of boating, which is also reflected in the accident statistics.
“Possibly, activities continued longer than usual because of the poor boating weather. October was 2017's with eight water transport deaths. Because the waters remained unfrozen, three further losses were added to the statistics in December”, tells Räisänen.
The warm May this year attracted people to the waters in large numbers. There has not yet been any press release about a large number of serious boating accidents so there could still be hope of a continuation in the record downward trend despite the warm weather.
“Nevertheless, there have been near miss incidents and the supervisory water transport authorities have said that they have already had more than enough to do on the water this spring. Vigilance, awareness and good preparedness need to be displayed all those involved in water transport activities”, says Räisänen as a reminder.
It will be possible to campaign for even safer boating on Saturday, 9 June, when International Life Jacket Day will be held in Finland. The day's main event is taking place in Helsinki between 10:00 am and 12:30 pm in the Lübeck Quay area, beside Helsinki Market Square. You can also participate in the day by putting a life jacket on and by taking a photograph, either alone or in a group. Pictures can be shared on Instagram or on Twitter using: #pelastusliivipäivä.
Water transport accident statistics on Trafi webpages (in Finnish)
Water transport accident statistics 2017 (in Finnish)
Head of Unit Ville Räisänen, tel. 029 5346 457, ville.raisanen(at)trafi.fi, Twitter @villeraisanen
Life Jacket Day:
http://www.viisaastivesilla.fi/etusivu/pelastu_ja_pelasta/pelastusliivipaiva (in Finnish)