What Is the Main Cause of Boating Accidents Leading To Death?

Hitting the water in your boat is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Unfortunately, hundreds of people every year suffer catastrophic injuries — or even death in extreme cases — due to boating accidents. 

But what is the primary cause of boating fatalities? More importantly, what can you do to protect yourself from the main cause of fatal boating accidents? Here’s everything you need to know to stay a little safer on your next water adventure. 

What Is the Main Cause of Fatal Boating Accidents?

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), falls overboard are the cause of most fatal boating accidents. These falls often lead to drowning. In 2022, 81% of people who drowned weren’t wearing a life jacket.

While falls overboard are the primary cause of boating accidents, they certainly aren’t the only factor at play. Moreover, it’s important to understand what emergency conditions or other elements lead people to fall from their vessels. 

In a 2023 report, the United States Coast Guard provided some insights into the factors that lead to boating accidents. 

It identified the following top five causes:

  • Machinery failure
  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lockout
  • Excessive speed

The U.S. Coast Guard also cited alcohol as one of the most common contributing factors, accounting for 16% of total fatalities or 88 deaths. Based on the information provided by the U.S. Coast Guard and FWC, it appears that the majority of boating incidents can be reduced or prevented by wearing a life jacket and avoiding alcohol consumption while boating. 

What Boating Emergency Causes the Most Fatalities? 

One of the most shocking pieces of information from the U.S. Coast Guard report was that most boating accidents occurred in “benign conditions.” In other words, a majority of accidents happened when visibility was good and the waters were calm. 

In reality, catastrophic emergencies account for a very small percentage of aquatic-vessel fatalities. More often, vessel operators are inexperienced or careless and bear responsibility for the incidents. The U.S. Coast Guard found that 74% of deaths occurred on crafts with captains who had undergone no formal boat safety training. 

How You Can Stay Safe Out on the Water

After learning more about the common causes of boating fatalities, it’s important to be proactive about your safety and that of others who are venturing out onto the water with you. 

If you are captaining the vessel, make sure that you:

  • Pay attention
  • Avoid distractions
  • Stay sober
  • Operate the vessel in accordance with your skill level
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Make sure your passengers wear safety gear

If you are riding on a boat with someone else, you need to take even more steps to ensure your safety. 

Some strategies include:

  • Only riding with operators who have completed a boating safety course
  • Wearing your life jacket
  • Staying attentive
  • Sitting down while the boat is operating at speed
  • Familiarizing yourself with the location of all safety equipment

Getting out on the water can be fun and safe as long as you practice a little diligence. 

Been Involved in a Boating Accident? Here’s What Happens Next

If you’ve been injured on a boat or a loved one has died as a result of a boat operator’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. It’s important to report the incident and seek experienced legal representation specializing in wrongful death claims or personal injury suits. The sooner you do so, the better your odds of obtaining justice for you and your loved ones.

Contact Our Ocala Boat Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala boat accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Firm, P.A. – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652