With the forecast calling for sunny skies, and millions of out-of-state visitors expected, this Labor Day weekend should be a busy one on New Hampshire's lakes.
But with more boats comes a greater chance of boating accidents. To get a clearer sense of how safe New Hampshire's lakes are for boaters, we reviewed the U.S. Recreational Boat Accident Database, which includes data on recreational boating accidents that resulted in death or injury requiring more than first aid, and accidents in which there was vessel loss or damage of more than $2,000. We focused specifically on the 2013 and 2014 data for Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire's biggest body of water.
Here's what the data shows:
- You're most like to have an accident at the end of the weekend. One-third of the 49 accidents reported in 2013-2014 happened on Sundays.
- It's most likely your fault. The causes most commonly cited in reported accidents are "improper lookout" (15 mentions), "operator inattention" (11 mentions), "navigation rules violation" (10 mentions), and "operator inexperience" (6 mentions).
- Be careful in shallow water. Take a look at the map and you'll see that most reported accidents are clustered on Lake Winnipesaukee's shoreline, in channels between islands, and in the lake's inlets.
- Rough waters are safer. 33 of the 49 reported accidents happened on "calm" waters. This could be because when it's calm, there are more boaters on the lake.
One note on the map: locations were pinpointed using reported descriptions of accident locations, such as "Between Rattlesnake Island & Sleepers Island."