It’s officially summer and people are spending a lot of time in the water. If you’re looking for a good story, one place to look is the boating accidents dataset in the NICAR data library. It’s been recently updated to include 2014 and is free for IRE members.
Kept by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Recreational Boating Accidents database has detailed information on accidents including if they resulted in death or injury, a description of the event, and the current conditions.
Find out where the most accidents happened, as well as common causes. If an accident happened in your area, compare the circumstances or location with all accidents in your state. Compare total accidents in your state to years prior to see if there was an increase or decrease in the overall number.
You could also use this information to create visualizations. Make a map and mark all of the areas where there’s been an accident or create a chart to show the fluctuation in numbers of injuries and deaths between the busiest summer months, which are generally May to August.
One caveat to note: Several states have prevented the Coast Guard from releasing their records. For 2014, the missing states are AK, CA, CT, HI, MI, MS, OR, PA and WA.
To see a sample of the data, read the documentation or download the database, visit the IRE website (you must be logged in to download the data): https://www.ire.org/nicar/database-library/databases/boating-accidents/.