What are the Top Causes of Boating Accidents?

Millions of people use boats for both recreation and business each day in the US. When the weather starts to warm up each year, you can count on thousands of people across Tennessee getting out and enjoying some time on the water. We hear about severe boating accidents on the news, but they are actually much more common than people realize.

The US Coast Guard says that during the latest reporting year, there were 4,291 boating accidents reported. Out of those, there were 2,629 injuries and 658 deaths. The latest reporting year in Tennessee saw 93 boating accidents that caused 44 injuries and 16 deaths. This is not a complete picture of total incidents, just ones that were reported. There are many other “minor” boating accidents that lead to major expenses for injury victims.

What are some common boating accident injuries?

When we look through the Coast Guard data, we can see that the top ten known primary contributing factors of boating accident are:

Operator Inattention

Just like distracted driving, distracted boating is never a good idea. The water can seem like a great open space with no obstacles, but boat operators need to pay close attention to their surroundings. This includes being attentive to changing weather, other boats nearby, obstacles in the water, and landmasses.

Improper Lookout

There should always be someone on a boat whose job it is to be the lookout. They should assist the operator in keeping an eye on hazards or dangers that could pose a threat to the boat and its occupants.

Operator Inexperience

People who have never owned or operated a boat or those who have very little experience should not be on the water without an experienced boater. Taking a boating safety class can go a long way towards keeping everyone safe on the water.

Machinery Failure

Some boating accidents are due to the result of equipment failure. Commercial and private boat owners have a duty to ensure that they keep all boating systems regularly inspected and maintained.

Alcohol Use

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and are enforced just like vehicle DUIs. Impaired boat operators are dangerous and can cause serious injuries.

Excessive Speed

Sometimes there are speed limits on the water, but more often there are not. However, boats should not be operated too fast for conditions. Boating at high speeds makes it much harder to adjust to changing conditions or hazards on the water.

Navigation Rules Violation

Even though the waterways look wide open and free, you can get into serious trouble for violating US Coast Guard and local water navigation rules and regulations.

Weather and Hazardous Waters

The weather can cause hazardous water conditions. Boaters should check the weather before an outing and never depart if there is a chance they will get caught in a storm. They should continuously monitor weather conditions when on the water to ensure they stay safe throughout the trip. Boat operators should also never operate if there is too much debris in the water.

Injuries from boating accidents can be severe, and operators should always be fully trained. Everyone on a boat should have access to and knowledge about how to use safety equipment, especially life vests.