Most boaters aim for safety when on the water. A boating accident can result in serious or catastrophic injuries and fatalities to the passengers and operator of the vessel. Every year, the United States Coast Guard releases boating accident statistics.

To understand boating safety, it is important to understand what contributes to accidents on the water.

Understanding boating accidents

Boating accidents can result in the loss of the vessel or property damage, as well as serious or fatal injuries. A boating accident can refer to a person that fell overboard or suffered ejection from the boat. It can also refer to those who drown while the boat was unanchored. It also refers to capsized or grounded boats, fires and explosions. It is not a boating accident if a person suffers an assault while aboard someone else’s vessel.

Vessels can refer to any type of watercraft. This includes sailboats, motorboats, canoes, inflatable boats, paddleboards and more.

Top contributing factors

An overwhelming amount of boating accidents occur during the vessel’s operation. In the United States, over 2,500 accidents occurred with over 1,700 injuries while the boat was in use and because of its use. Often, this is due to mistakes or negligence by the driver. For instance, one of the top causes of boating accidents is alcohol use. Alcohol use while operating any motor vehicle increases the risk of an accident. It slows a person’s reaction time and impairs judgment.

Other accident causes include:

  • Speeding
  • Lack of lookout
  • Operator inattention
  • Turning sharply
  • Inexperience

While alcohol may not be the number one contributor to boating injuries, it is the number one contributor to boating accident deaths. Both boat operators and passengers can do their parts to stay safe by exercising good judgment, refraining from drinking and driving and being prepared before setting out.