What Is The Cause of Most Boating Accidents?

Boating Accident CausesIn some ways, a boat accident can be deadlier than a vehicle crash on the road. While most vessels can’t travel as quickly as land vehicles and aren’t usually as heavy, there is an ever-present threat of drowning for anyone thrown over the side. Handling a vessel is also entirely different than driving a car, so an inexperienced navigator can suddenly lose control of the vessel, even in calm waters. Like vehicle crashes, though, most boat wrecks can be avoided as long as the vessel is captained carefully and if the captain is prepared if a crash does occur.

3 Most Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Every year, there are about 4,000 vessel crashes in the U.S., resulting in approximately 700 fatalities. While some of these wrecks are unavoidable, as changes in weather or water conditions can occur in an instant, most of them are preventable.

1) Operator inattention

Operator inattention is the biggest culprit year in and out, and most crashes caused by inattention happen in harbors where there are a lot of other vessels. In fact, the most common type of vessel wreck is crashing into a moored vessel. When an operator pulls into the harbor for mooring, they must be aware of other vessels, the direction they are traveling in and the speed at which they are moving.

2) Navigating inexperience

Navigating inexperience is another serious concern, as people often overestimate their ability to manage a vessel. An experienced operator may also turn the controls over to someone else to entertain guests or engage in other activities. In either case, a boat accident is a likely outcome. In Florida, investigations into crash reports found that more than half of all wrecks involved an operator with no navigating education.

3) Excessive speed

Excessive speed and alcohol use are also a part of many crashes, and operators again underestimate how dangerous both can be. Operators have to be ready to react to all kinds of dangers while on the water and direct people in the event of trouble. If a vessel is speeding out of control or the operator is not sober, it will not be possible to react to other vessels or fixed objects in time.


As long as an effective captain mans the vessel, injuries can be minimized following a crash. All vessels must be stocked with lifejackets, preservers, and other safety equipment, as they greatly improve survivability. More than 80 percent of drowning fatalities and more than half of trauma-related fatalities involve people without a lifejacket. Even though they are inexpensive, easy to store and easy to use, authorities cite thousands of vessels every year for not carrying proper safety equipment. This constitutes negligence on the part of the vessel owner.