- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The Coast Guard recommended yesterday that operators of small boats raise weight estimates for passengers to reflect that Americans have become heavier since the first standards were established in 1942.

The recommendation arises from an investigation of an accident in which an overloaded water taxi capsized and killed five persons in Baltimore in 2004.

The operator assumed that the average passenger weighed 140 pounds, based on the Coast Guard’s standards for a mix of men, women and children in calm inland waters. For passengers in boats on the ocean, the standard was 160 pounds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the average American gained more than 24 pounds between the 1960s and 2002, for an average of 178 pounds without clothes.

The Coast Guard settled on a single standard of 185 pounds and made it voluntary until new rules are established.

“We wanted to provide guidance before the season starts,” she said.

Too much passenger weight was an issue in other deadly accidents: the 2003 crash of a small plane in Charlotte, N.C., in which 21 persons were killed on takeoff, and the sinking of the Ethan Allen tour boat on Lake George in New York in the fall, which killed 20 persons.

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