Boating accidents are caused for several reasons. Those reasons may consist of operator negligence, speeding, inexperience or no lookout. Some boating accidents are a result of a defect in the boat. If this occurs, the operator may have a lawsuit against the boating manufacturer.
In 2008, there were nearly 3700 boating related casualties. These fatalities occurred in five different types of boats. The boats consist of open motorboat, personal watercraft, cabin motorboat, canoe/kayak, and rowboat. While the number of boating accidents rose from 4,967 in 2006 to 5,191 in 2007. That number appeared to decline in 2008. In 2008, over 510 deaths were related to drowning and all but 49 were not wearing a life jacket.
Most of the boating fatalities in 2008, were related to operator negligence or recklessness. However, there were other causes of boating fatalities. The top ten reasons for boating fatalities are listed below:
- Alcohol Use
- Passenger or Skier Behavior
- Operator Inexperience
- Careless or Reckless Operation
- Excessive Speed
- Operator Inattention
- Machinery Failure
- Force of Wave or Wake
As it is important not to drink and drive a motor vehicle, it is also important not to drive a boat while under the influence of alcohol. It impairs the operator’s judgment and may result in fatalities. There were 124 boating deaths related to alcohol use. Almost half of the 276 boating accidents related to alcohol resulted in death.
The single most cause of injuries or boating accidents were a result of reckless operation of the boat. Of the 492 accidents associated with careless or reckless operation, 392 resulted in injuries. Open motor boats, by far, accounted for the majority of casualties related to boating. Over 700 individuals lost their lives in an open motor boat in 2008. Canoers and kayakers also suffered a large number of fatalities totaling nearly 230.
Exercising safety precautions while on a boat is of utmost importance. Some fatalities occur due to weather, malfunction, and waves. These types of accidents may be unavoidable in some instances. However, the leading cause of death was due to falling overboard, and the second cause of death was collisions. Each of these types of deaths are avoidable with the proper operation and safety jackets.