Top 10 Causes of Boating Accidents and Why Florida Leads the Nation with Highest Boating Accident Rate

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

boating accidentsOne of the benefits of living in sunny South Florida is the fact that we have great weather all year round (well, mostly). Add dozens of beautiful waterways to the equation and you have the perfect recipe for ideal boating conditions.

On any given day, you’ll find South Florida’s channels inundated with eager boaters enjoying clear skies and warm temperatures. Who’d blame them? We’ve got an array of top boating spots to choose from, including Biscayne Bay, the Miami River, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway – to name a few.

But while South Florida’s waterways do make for amazing recreational boating outings, they can also make for dangerous boating accidents. As any boating accident lawyer at our firm can tell you, all the conditions that make our water channels so appealing also make them prone to hazardous conditions. In fact, according to the US Coast Guard’s 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics, Florida ranked first in the nation, with a total of 685 boating accidents in 2013.

So what exactly is contributing to these boating accident statistics? Below is a list of the Coast Guard’s top 10 causes of boating accidents in 2013:

  1. Operator Inattention
  2. Improper Lookout
  3. Operator Inexperience
  4. Excessive Speed
  5. Machinery Failure
  6. Alcohol Use
  7. Navigational Rules Violations
  8. Force of Wave/Wake
  9. Hazardous Waters
  10. Weather

Aside from environmental factors, the vast majority of boating accidents in 2013 were attributed to negligence. Whether it’s because the vessel operator wasn’t paying attention, did not have sufficient experience, was speeding, intoxicated, or violating navigational rules of safety, negligence clearly played a role in the number of boating accidents reported last year. Sadly, this means that the majority of boating accidents last year could have been prevented.

The report also shows that most boating accidents in 2013 took place when waters were calm, further showing the how the inappropriate and unsafe actions of operators lead the way as far as contributing factors to boat-related injuries and deaths. We understand that it can be tempting to drink while out in open waters or to goof off with friends, but take a tip from an experienced boating accident lawyer when I say that one day’s worth of negligent boat operating decisions can lead to a lifetime of consequences – many of which are fatal.

Here are some other facts to consider:

  • Out of 4,062 boating accidents in 2013, 560 deaths and 2,620 injuries were reported.
  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  • 84 percent of boating accident victims who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

Unfortunately, South Florida’s party lifestyle doesn’t exactly help to promote safe and responsible boating. But hopefully, these statistics will help open up the public’s eyes to the dangers of reckless boating and help to prevent future accidents on our waterways.