Recreational Boating Accidents – Statistics, Causes, and Safety Tips

Recreational boating is a popular way to enjoy the warm weather. However, it also poses a serious risk of injuries or death. Whether you are going out on a lake, or you are taking a road trip to the coast, it is important to follow safety guidelines to prevent a boating accident.

Recreational Boating Accident Statistics – What the Numbers Show

There were more than 4,000 recreational boating accidents in 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety. This accounted for more than 650 deaths and 2,600 injuries. Recreational boating accidents, including boat collisions, passengers falling overboard, collisions with fixed objects, grounding, and flooding, caused more than $46 million in property damage. These statistics show the danger of recreational boating. While it may seem like a fun way to unwind with friends, you should never take your safety for granted. 76% of all recreational boating fatalities were caused by drowning, and nearly 85% of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. Boating can be fun and relaxing, but it is important to always to practice safe habits on the water to prevent drowning accidents and injuries.

Common Causes of Recreational Boating Accidents

There are 5 main causes of recreational boating accidents listed by the U.S. Coast Guard. These include:

  1. Alcohol use. While it may be tempting to enjoy a few drinks with friends while boating, the operator needs to be alert and sober at all times. In fact, boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) is illegal, and carries harsh penalties. Just like drinking and driving is dangerous, drinking and boating can result in serious injuries or even death. Boat operators must limit their alcohol consumption or avoid alcohol completely while behind the wheel.
  2. Operator inattention. Distracted boating is also a main cause of recreational boating accidents in the United States. Looking at a cell phone, having a conversation with friends, holding a drink, or being mentally distracted from the task could lead to an accident. Boat operators must stay focused and alert at all times, and avoid distractions while on the water.
  3. Improper lookout. While operating a boat, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Improper lookout refers to the failure of the boat operator to keep track of obstacles and traffic around the vessel. Boat operators need to not only watch for other boats in the vicinity, but they also need to look for seaweed, logs, and other obstacles that could cause an accident. Paying attention to your surroundings, avoiding alcohol, and staying focused can help ensure you keep a proper lookout.
  4. Operator inexperience. Many boat operators lack the experience and training to properly handle a vessel. There are a variety of rules designed to prevent boating collisions and other accidents in the water. Just like drivers must obey traffic laws, boat operators must obey all safety regulations, including speed limits and navigational rules. Failure to follow proper boating procedures could lead to a serious accident.
  5. Machine malfunctions. Improperly maintained boat equipment could also cause an accident. It is important to provide routine maintenance for all boat components, such as the rudder, steering mechanisms, and engine. Failure to provide regular maintenance could lead to a machine malfunction, which could cause an on-board fire or collision with another vessel. Repairing or replacing necessary parts can help prevent an accident.

Important Boating Safety Tips

One of the main safety practices you need to follow is to have everyone on the boat wear a life jacket. Even adults must wear a life jacket at all times while on the water. This can help prevent a drowning accident if someone goes overboard. Furthermore, boat operators must stay alert and aware of their surroundings. They should also receive proper training through a Coast Guard-approved safety course. Providing proper maintenance on the boat itself is also important to help avoid an accident. By following these safety tips, you can enjoy a fun and safe time on the water.

Injured in a Boating Accident? Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law Is Here to Help.

At Waltman & Grisham Attorneys at Law, we are passionate about helping our clients seek justice from negligent parties. If an inexperienced, careless, or reckless boat operator caused your injuries, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation. Our Bryan personal injury attorneys will help you file the necessary documents, gather evidence to prepare your case, and aggressively uphold justice from those responsible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.