Boating fatalities are at their highest peak within the last five years. The 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics Report from the United States Coast Guard reveals concerning trends involving boating accidents.

Boating Accidents on the Rise

The total number of boating accidents in 2016 was 701. This represents the highest number of annual boating fatalities in the last five years. The fatality rate of 5.9 deaths per 100,000 boaters represented an increase of 11.3 percent from the rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 boaters in 2015. There were 75 more deaths in 2016 than in 2015. Additionally, 2,903 injuries were sustained in boating accidents in 2016, up from 2,613 in 2015. The total number of boating accidents also increased between the two years studied, with 4,463 in 2016 and 4,158 in 2015. Property damage for these accidents amounted to $49 million.

Causes of Boating Accidents

The top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents based on information provided by the United States Coast Guard include:

  • Operator inattention
  • Inexperience of the operator
  • High Speeds
  • Machinery Failure
  • Improper lookout

Additionally, alcohol was a leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Most boating incidents that lead to death involve the victim drowning. Approximately 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of these fatalities, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Preventing Boating Accidents

A number of preventative measures can help prevent injuries and fatalities associated with boating. Because so many boating deaths are associated with drowning, wearing a life jacket can help save lives. This simple step is the greatest factor in preventing death. Additionally, 77 percent of boating fatalities occurred in situations in which the operator had not received any boater safety training. Taking a boating safety education course can help alert operators to possible dangers and what to do in case of an emergency. The United States Coast Guard can provide referrals to proper training opportunities. Additionally, the United States Coast Guard provides resources for vessel safety checks. These inspections can help identify mechanical issues that may represent danger the boating passengers. All operators should avoid alcohol consumption or drug use at any rate so that they can safely navigate the waters.

A personal injury lawyer can examine the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine whether a viable lawsuit can be pursued. Victims may be entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.