Nothing is worse than cruising along enjoying your day out on your boat and then unexpectedly – BAM – an accident happens. Much like getting into a car accident, boating accidents can be extremely devastating. By definition, we never know when that fateful moment will arrive. This underlines the critical importance of paying attention to every detail that is happening around you while you are boating.
So we shouldn’t be surprised to see that the latest US Coast Guard accident report lists “inattention” as the number one cause of boating accidents. There is of course alcohol, speeding, no life jackets as continuous problems, but lack of attention leads as a serious culprit in boat accidents.
When it comes to boating there is no shortage of distractions, and even the most skilled boater can fall victim to it. Whether it be the group you’re with, nature, fishing, the list goes on – distraction is literally surrounding you when you’re on the water. Distraction can also happen when you are by yourself, lost in thought. But when you do see a situation developing, you still need to have the driving skills to avoid an accident. That is why the latest stats put “lack of boat driving skills” as the number two cause of accidents.
You may or may not be surprised to hear that most people out on their boats actually never took a boating class. While boat safety is extremely important, further educating yourself before your first boating adventure could turn out to be life-saving. If someone has never been educated either by a training program or a veteran boater then accident-reducing skills such as how to control wakes, and how to dock smoothly. The current stats tell us that 77% of deaths on the water occur in boats where the operator had not received any formal boat driving instruction
Other causes of accidents listed in the report are also good to note. 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of these victims, 86% were not wearing a life jacket of any type. Alcohol was the leading factor in 18% of deaths and a leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
This information isn’t being shared to be a bummer on your day, but to share the latest Coast Guard reasoning behind their report which is that once boat driving skills are improved and boaters recognize the need to stay focused, accidents will be reduced and a greater safety culture in the entire boating spectrum will evolve. All we want is safer waters for everyone! And with the new rise of people getting into boating during the pandemic, there are a lot more people on the water and it’s up to everyone in our boating community to keep the waters safe.