What are the most common causes of boating accidents?

The omission of simple safety procedures causes most boating-related incidents and fatalities.

Most boating accidents, including vessel loss, property damage, injuries, missing individuals, and even death, result from some surprisingly common, most of the time avoidable causes if safety procedures are in place.

The rising popularity of this pastime has led to increasing accident numbers over the past years and, accordingly, to several transportation litigation cases.

When a canoe, ship, or any other form of water transportation gets involved in an accident, water transportation liability occurs due to the following:

  • Operator error - whether due to negligence, inattention, or inexperience, the captain of the boat is liable for everyone aboard's safety and those in the water or on other craft.
  • Improper lookouts for hazards - it's the boat operator's responsibility to either designate others as lookouts while operating the boat or to ensure the safety of others while crewing the vessel. 
  • Operator intoxication - boating under the influence is a serious safety violation and an illegal act potentially leading to the injury or death of others while on the water.
  • Speeding - just like when driving on the road, speed kills as our reaction time decreases, and our ability to safely navigate obstacles, changes in the water's surface, other boats, and swimmers are severely impacted when navigation at speed. 
  • Mechanical failure - whether resulting from a manufacturer defect, operator's negligence, or other causes, accidents may lead to injury or death when a boat has mechanical failures.

Responsible boat operation prevents accidents

By simply operating a vessel responsibly, many tragic scenarios can be avoided. If the vessel's driver understands driving responsibly, knows maritime law basics, and knows how to keep themselves and their passengers safe, most boating accidents like the following can be avoided:

  • Injury while swimming to an undocked vessel
  • Casualty occurring from collision with a boat or its components
  • Explosion or fire while docked or underway
  • Collision of two vessels
  • Towing mishap 
  • Passenger falling overboard
  • Flooding or capsizing
  • Drowning
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