What Is the Main Cause of Fatal Boating Accidents?

Many Floridians enjoy spending their free time boating. With its abundance of sunny days, the Sunshine State can be an ideal place to own a boat. Unfortunately, as with any type of vehicle, boating comes with the risk of getting into an accident. 

According to the National Safe Boating Council and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics Report, there were 658 fatalities relating to boating accidents in 2021 alone. Another 2,641 individuals were injured, and a total of 4,439 boating accidents occurred altogether. 

These statistics mean that, on average, there were about 12 boating accidents per day in 2021. What is the primary cause of these accidents, and how can you prevent them?

Alcohol Is the Leading Cause of Fatal Boating Accidents

The U.S. Coast Guard’s statistics further identify alcohol as the leading contributing factor to boating-related fatalities. In 2021, alcohol played a role in more than 100 deaths, or over 16 percent of all fatalities. 

Boating under the influence of alcohol is illegal in Florida, and for good reason. Operating a boat while impaired by alcohol increases the risk of a wreck or accident. 

This increased risk arises because alcohol:

  • Impairs your ability to make sound judgments in light of your circumstances
  • Increases your risk tolerance and willingness to engage in dangerous behaviors
  • Reduces your ability to perceive things through your senses
  • Increases the amount of time it takes for you to react to things you see and hear

Although the legal limit of alcohol in your blood or breath for boating is less than 0.08, you can be impaired by alcohol no matter the amount of alcohol in your system. Even if your alcohol concentration is less than 0.08, you may be too impaired to safely operate a boat if you do not drink regularly, have not eaten, or are battling an illness.

Other Contributing Factors Leading To Boat Wrecks in Florida

Other factors identified by the U.S. Coast Guard as leading to boating crashes included the following:

  • Inattentiveness of the boat operator
  • The operator’s inexperience in safely piloting a boat
  • Failing to maintain an adequate lookout for hazards like stationary objects
  • Engine failure or other mechanical problems with the boat
  • Speeding too fast for the conditions present on the water

The U.S. Coast Guard’s statistics did not establish a correlation between alcohol usage and these behaviors. In other words, it is not clear from the available data what percentage of boaters who engaged in these careless acts did so because they were under the influence of alcohol.

The Primary Cause of Death in Boating Accidents Is Drowning

Most individuals who did not survive boating accidents died due to drowning. The available statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that over eight out of every ten people who died, or about 500 people in total, died due to drowning. These individuals were either thrown overboard or fell overboard as a result of the crash.

Furthermore, of those who drowned, about 83 percent, or about 415 people in total, were not wearing life jackets at the time they fell overboard and drowned. This grim statistic serves to emphasize the importance of wearing a life jacket every time you take to the water, regardless of your age or experience.

Florida Boating Accidents Are Preventable

These statistics show that most boating accidents can be prevented through greater care and attention. You should avoid operating a boat if you have had too much to drink, and you should not consume alcohol while piloting a boat. 

Pay attention to your surroundings, operate your boat at a sensible speed, and you and your family and friends can safely enjoy the water.

Contact Our Boating Accident Law Firm – Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

Contact a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015