With the summer boating season just around the corner, it is important to refresh our knowledge about boating safety.
Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on reported recreational boating accidents. These statistics are derived from accident reports that are filed by the owners/operators of recreational vessels involved in accidents. The fifty states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia submit accident report data to the Coast Guard for inclusion in the annual Boating Statistics publication. The latest Boating Statistics that Coast Guard gathered shows the most common contributing factors in accidents as follows;
- Operator inattention 17.0%
- Improper lookout 12.5%
- Operator inexperience 9.8%
- Machinery failure 7.8%
- Excessive speed 7.5%
- Alcohol use 6.2%
- Navigation rules violation 5.8%
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2018, there were In 2018, the Coast Guard counted 4,145 accidents that involved 633 deaths, 2,511 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
- Where the cause of death was known, 77% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of deaths.
- There were 177 accidents in which at least one person was struck by a propeller. Collectively, these accidents resulted in 25 deaths and 177 injuries.
Understanding why these accidents occur is a good way of learning how to prevent them as well as injuries and fatalities. Most of these contributing factors seem avoidable. While there’s never a guarantee that you can avoid injury, by moderating your actions, staying aware of your surroundings, exercising good judgment (all while having a good time) and properly maintaining your boat, you can go a long way toward reducing the risk of a boating accident.