Boating Accident Statistics You Should Know

Boating accidents affect thousands of people in the United States every year; in most cases, the accidents are preventable, and in most of these accidents, fatalities are preventable. If you have been injured in a boating accident, you should consult one of our lawyers as soon as possible, but prevention should always be the first line of defense if you go out on a boat. The United States Coast Guard (USGS) puts out a report every year on recreational boating accident statistics in the U.S. Here are a few important things you should know from those statistics.

  • The majority of boating accidents involve a collision with another vessel. In 2012, collisions between recreational vessels accounted for 1010 boating accidents, just under 25 percent of the total number of accidents reported.
  • Collisions with other boats account for the largest percentage of injuries. Last year, over 700 people were injured in boating collisions, out of a total of 3000 reported. (Vessel owners and operators bear responsibility for injuries resulting from boat collision, which is why you need an attorney.)
  • The majority of boating accidents occur because the operator is inexperienced or not paying attention. This accounts for nearly 20 percent of all boating accidents reported in 2012.
  • The vast majority of fatalities in boating accidents occur because no life jacket was worn. Last year, 71 percent of all fatalities resulted from drowning, according to the USCG. Among those drownings, 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. This makes drowning the most preventable tragedy among boating accidents. (Incidentally, 24 fatality victims were under the age of 13, and most were not wearing life jackets—a violation of state and federal boating laws.)
  • The largest contributing factor in fatal boating accidents is alcohol use. Seventeen percent of last year’s fatalities were attributed to alcohol use as the main factor.
  • Most drownings occur in accidents involving vessels less than 21 feet in length. Seventy percent of last year’s drowning victims were on small watercraft, again emphasizing the importance of life jackets.
  • March and April tend to be the most fatal months for boaters. Last year, of all boating accidents occurring in April, one in five involved a fatality.
  • The highest number of fatalities in boating accidents occur at night. This is somewhat to be expected because it is more difficult to see at night. The time period where a boating accident is most likely to be fatal is between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m.