Major Contributing Factors in Boating Accidents

Compiling statistics on all reported recreational boating accidents in the U.S. is one of the duties of the U.S. Coast Guard. Based on compiled records, from 2013 to 2014, the total number of accidents increased by 0.05%, or from 4,062 to 4,064. the numbers of accidents that resulted to injuries were 2,620 in 2013, and 2,678 in 2014; fatalities, on the other hand, were 560 and 610 for 2013 and 2014, respectively.

For the past many years until now, alcohol has been and still remains to be the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; while the top five leading contributing factors to accidents are:

  •  Operator inexperience. For the 15 years, operator inexperience has been the leading cause of boat accidents in the U.S. Many boat operator, obviously, are not familiar with the laws and regulations on boating, rules on correct and proper navigation, knot tying, trailering, and the necessary things that should be done in weather-related emergencies.
  • Operator inattention. Rather then focusing on the water and where the boat is heading, many operators get distracted with what is going on onboard, making timely reactions to emergency situations impossible.
  • Improper lookout or improper forward watch. When operating a boat, steering clear out of danger can be more effectively done with the help of someone who can provide extra eyes and ears. Many accidents due to collision could have been avoided had the operator been given help navigate its way safely, avoiding anything that may cross its path.
  • Excessive speed. Just as speeding on the road is like some sort challenging the angel of death to try to snatch the life out of you through a tragic accident, so too is operating a boat at too much speed. The force of the impact created each time that a speeding boat bounces off and back on the water can be strong enough to stun you and throw you or your passenger/s overboard, leaving you or anyone else with not enough strength to swim to safety. Boat owners and operators ought to know that drowning is the number one cause of death in the water and 80% of those who drowned were reported as not wearing a life jacket.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol, especially at sea, can affect a boat operator’s balance, coordination, vision and judgment, much faster than on land. Due to alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling over board have been common causes injuries and deaths.

As pointed out by the Clawson Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, boat operators are expected to follow boating laws, never operate their vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, never operate the boat in a manner that is reckless, and not exceed certain speeds while within designated areas. Failure to follow any of these may not only result to an accident, but to them being totally liable for whatever untoward incident would occur.