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Statistics Prove It: Boating Can Be Dangerous


Driving a car is dangerous, and there is a high likelihood of injury. But riding a boat is fun, recreational, and generally harmless. At least, that’s what people tend to think. Because of the fun associated with boating, it’s easy to forget they’re still vehicles, able to do a good amount of damage if they aren’t operated carefully.

Injuries on the Water

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in 2019, there were 453 injuries on or caused by boats. That may not seem like much, but unlike our cars, we aren’t on our boats every day, all the time. The most common type of injury was lacerations, although broken bones and head injuries were also reported to be very common.

The most common type of accident is “boat on boat,” with 195 accidents. Second was a boat crashing into a fixed object.

There was almost an even divide of injuries between occupants and operators of the boats. Thankfully, only about 1% of those injured were swimmers. There was also an almost even divide between those who were injured from being ejected from the boat, as opposed to those who were not ejected.

While driving a boat under the influence is a crime, you don’t have to be intoxicated to be dangerous behind the boating wheel. Only 5% of accidents were caused in some way by alcohol or drug use.

Deaths in Boating Accidents

Boats don’t just cause injury—they also can cause fatalities, and Florida led the nation in boating deaths, followed by Texas and California. In 2019, Florida recorded 65 boating deaths, with 7 of the top 10 counties where deadly accidents occurred, located in South and Southwest Florida. Gasoline powered boats and fiberglass boats were the types of vessels where deaths most often occurred.

April and October were the months with the most boating deaths, and deaths are even broken down into the time: Between 4:00pm and 6:00pm were the most deadly times to be on a boat. Men were way more likely to be operating a boat involved in a fatal accident—98% of operators were men (victims as well are male-dominated; 91% were male).

And unlike car accidents, where we tend to associate carelessness with youth, when it comes to boats, about half of all fatal accidents involved a boat operator 51 or older, and 65% of these operators had over 100 hours of experience operating a boat.

Unlike boating accidents, when it comes to deaths, the most common cause of a boating death was falling overboard. About 66% of deaths were the result of drowning. This only emphasizes the need to make sure that passengers are secure, following safety precautions, and wearing protective equipment.

The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian can answer your questions if you are in an accident. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any type of accident. Schedule a consultation today.


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