Objectives: Identify associations between lack of formal boater training, drinking and boating, and other unsafe boating practices.
Methods: A telephone survey queried respondents (age 16 or older in continental United States) about boating experience, type of boat used, and training.
Results: Of the 3,042 boaters surveyed (70% response), most had no formal training (73%). Boaters with formal training failed to use PFDs about as often as those without formal training and were equally or more likely to use alcohol while boating.
Conclusions: The unexpected association between formal training and unsafe boating practices is probably due to reduced risk perception and inadequacies of boater training programs. Such programs seldom mention the risks of alcohol use while boating. Decisions to mandate formal training should be informed by these results; if mandated, training should address the risks of alcohol use while boating, and should be renewed frequently enough to offset reductions in risk perception.