While there are fewer boats on America’s waterways than cars on its highways, that doesn’t mean that accidents don’t happen.
Prevalence of boating accidents
Statistics compiled by the United States Coast Guard for 2017 saw 4,291 accidents involving recreational boats in U.S. waters. In 2017, 658 people died and 2,629 more were injured in those accidents. The number of deaths in 2017 marked a slight increase over the last five years from 651 in 2012, which was the lowest total on record.
The Coast Guard also reported that recreational boating accidents caused approximately $46 million dollars in property damage.
While 2017 saw a decrease in the rate of boating deaths in the U.S., from 5.9 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels in 2016 to 5.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2017 – nearly a seven percent decrease – boating accidents are still a major concern and following boating safety standards cannot be stressed enough.
Of those boating deaths included in the Coast Guard report, roughly three in four were caused by drowning. Most concerning of all, 85 percent of those drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
In almost 20 percent of all boating-related deaths, alcohol use was listed as a contributing factor. Other primary factors included operator inattention, improper lookout or experience, machinery failure and speed.
Almost half of all boating deaths in 2017 – and accidents, as a whole – involved open motorboats.
Another statistic from the Coast Guard report worth mentioning was that roughly 80 percent of all boating accidents occurred on boats being operated by someone without any boating safety education. Conversely, only 14 percent of deaths occurred on boats being operated by someone who had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.
Mitigating the risk
While it may seem like common sense, this Coast Guard data shows that boating accidents are less prevalent when vessels are properly equipped with life jackets and are driven by certified, experienced operators.
When getting on the water in a boat, it is so important to take necessary precautions to ensure your safety and to make sure the operator of the boat is educated, experienced and sober.
Sometimes even the best preparation isn’t enough, and accidents do happen. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, after receiving medical treatment, consulting with Coplan + Crane Oak Park’s Personal Injury Lawyers should be your top priority.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you.