Booming Interest in Boating Is Leading to More Deaths and Accidents

There has been an incredible uptick in interest in boating over the last few years. While boating can be a fun activity, it can also be dangerous when boat operators do not know what they are doing or operate the boat in an unsafe manner. Along with the increased interest in boating, there has also been an increased rate of boating accidents and deaths.

Increased Interest in Boating 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been instructed to stay home and avoid contact with others. Many people are now getting out of their homes and hitching for a fun yet safe activity to do, so they have turned to recreational boating. This allowed people to be outdoors where the risk of infection was less while still spending time with others.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that new boat sales reached a 13-year high in 2020. Additionally, wake boat purchases used for water skiing and wake surfing increased by 20 percent. One online boat rental marketplace realized a 700% increase in 2021.

More Accidents and Deaths

Unfortunately, the increased interest in boating has corresponded with a higher number of boating accidents and deaths. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2020 Boating Safety Statistics Report, boating accidents increased by 26.3% in 2020, compared to the number of accidents that occurred in 2019. There were 5,265 boating accidents in 2020, while there were 4,168 such accidents in 2019. Boating fatalities increased by 25.1% in 2020, compared to the number of boating deaths reported in 2019. In 2019, there were 613 boating fatalities. However, in 2020, there were 767. Preliminary data from the U.S. Coast Guard shows even higher numbers of projected boating fatalities in 2021. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said that from July through August 2020, there were more accidents than during the same period any other year since the Coast Guard began recording this information. The Coast Guard said that in 77% of fatal boating accidents, the boat operator did not have any training.

In California, the difference was even more significant with a 52% increase in boating accidents from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, there were 324 boating accidents. In 2020, there were 493. 

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, some of the leading causes of boating accidents in 2020 included:

  • Alcohol impairment
  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience 
  • Improper lookout 
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure 

The U.S. Coast Guard report found 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. 86% of these individuals were not wearing a life jacket.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Boating Accident

If you are ever involved in a boating accident, it is important that you know what to do. Here are some steps to take to protect your health and claim:

  • Use the safety gear on the boat, including lifejackets
  • Call channel 16 for emergency help
  • Ask the boat operator for their contact and insurance information 
  • Take pictures of the boat accident, property damage, and your injuries

Finally, if you were hurt in a boating incident, contact an experienced Orange County boating accident lawyer. The personal injury law firm of Aitken * Aitken * Cohn can help. We can investigate your claim and help you pursue fair compensation. Contact us for your free case review.