What are the Top 5 Causes of Boating Accidents?

As California weather becomes more favorable to recreational and commercial boaters alike, more and more mariners are returning to the water this month. Unfortunately, not every day on the water turns out as we expect it and fatal accidents occur. Boating accidents can occur when we least expect them, even in the best weather conditions.

The final bell tolled for a 64-year-old fisherman this past week when his 10’ fishing boat capsized near Muir Beach in the San Francisco Bay. A fellow boater made a call to the Coast Guard reporting a capsized fiberglass boat at 11:30 am. The victim’s body was not found until 6:30 pm. The cause of the accident is unknown at this point.

What Causes Boating Accidents?

While unfortunate, this is neither the first nor the last boating accident that California will see this year. According to the Coast Guard, most boating accidents are caused, at least in some part, by mistakes made by the vessel’s operator. Here are the top 5 causes of boating accidents, as reported by the Coast Guard.

  1. Operator Inattentiveness. Operating a watercraft requires a high degree of attention in an environment where distractions are high. Often, boat operators must contend with loud music, multiple passengers and high traffic water areas. This combination can lead to accidents, even with the most attentive driver. However, taking your eyes off of the water and surrounding traffic can prove fatal. Over 550 boating accidents occurred in 2015 as a result of operator inattentiveness.
  2. Operator Inexperience. Until very recently, anybody over the age of 15 could operate a watercraft without any training or license. Even still, training requirements are minimal and inexperienced boaters pack the State’s waterways and coastlines. Over 450 accidents were caused in 2015 by driver inexperience, injuring over 280 and killing 37.
  3. Improper Lookout. Every vessel is required to maintain a proper lookout at all times. This is especially important in high traffic areas and in times of limited visibility. Over 400 accidents were caused in 2015 by failing to maintain a proper watch.
  4. Machinery Failure. With so many moving parts operating in some of the most destructive environments, boat parts and equipment have a high failure rate. Whether the failure is caused by corrosion and age or a product defect, the results can be deadly. Mechanical failure caused over 300 accidents in 2015, killing 17 people and injuring 134.
  5. Excessive Speed. All boat operators must maintain speeds that are appropriate for the conditions, including traffic, weather considerations, hazards and driver experience. Most accidents are caused by driver overconfidence, combined with driver inexperience. Excessive speed is usually the result of this combination. Over 300 boating accidents were caused by excessive speed in 2015, injuring over 280 and killing 18 people.

Individuals that operate watercraft undertake a great responsibility and owe their passengers, employees and fellow mariners a high duty of care. If you have been injured in a boating accident, call our office today at (888) 806-6722 for a free evaluation of your case.