Washington state and its waterways are some of the most beautiful in the country, providing recreational boaters a terrific way to spend time. Unfortunately, there are some boaters and various circumstances that can be dangerous. Boat drivers and their passengers should always practice boating safety, and watching for potential reckless boaters is always a good idea.
Each year, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) releases its recreational boating statistics, which provides an interesting glimpse into how and why boating accidents occur. The top causes of boating accidents should be no surprise: operator inattention/inexperience resulted in 1,077 of the 4,463 boating accidents in the United States in 2016, followed by improper lookout (475), excessive speed (360), machinery failure (323), alcohol use (282) and weather (214).
Boating Under the Influence (BUI) carries similar penalties to a DUI. Boaters that receive a BUI can serve up to a year in jail and be fined up to $5,000. When it comes to boating deaths in the United States, 87 of the 701 total deaths and 264 injuries were due to alcohol use.
Similar to car accidents, the majority of boating accidents are preventable. In general, most boating accidents are a result of negligence. Taking proper safety steps and knowing the risks of boating can go a long way toward you or someone you know being involved in a boating accident.
Washington State Boating Accident Statistics
- In 2016, there were 98 total boating accidents in Washington state, down from the 107 in 2015 and 122 in 2014.
- Boating accidents caused 18 deaths and 53 injuries in Washington state in 2016.
- In 2016, 10 boating accidents in Washington were caused by alcohol. Three people died and eight were injured in those accidents.
- The month of August saw the most boating accidents in Washington in 2016. Thirty-six vessels were involved in 23 accidents that resulted in 12 injuries and four deaths in August.
- In 2016, boating accidents in Washington resulted in $1.76 million in damages, fifth-highest in the United States. The only states with more damages were Florida ($9.6 million), California ($4.4M), Maryland ($3.7M) and North Carolina ($3.3M).
- The top-three bodies of water for boating accidents in Washington state in 2016: Columbia River (10), Puget Sound (eight) and Lake Washington (seven).
More Boating Accident Statistics
The following are national boating accident statistics compiled by the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
- In 2016, the USCG counted 4,463 recreational boating accidents. Those accidents resulted in 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries and approximately $49 million in property damage. The 701 deaths was the highest number of yearly boating fatalities on record in the last five years.
- In 2016, the number of boating accidents increased 7.3 percent from 2015. The number of deaths also increased 12 percent, and the number of injuries went up 11.1 percent.
- The most common boats to be involved in an accident were open motorboats (47 percent), followed by personal watercraft (18 percent) and cabin motorboats (15 percent).
- In 2016, alcohol was the leading cause of fatal boating accidents. When the primary cause was known, it was the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths.
- When the cause of death was known, 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those victims, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
- The summer months were the most dangerous for boating. In June there were 728 accidents, in July 1,081 and in August 691. July also resulted in the most deaths due to boating (143).
- When the experience of the operator was known, 77 percent of boating deaths occurred when the operator had no instruction.
- From 1997 to 2016, the number of deaths (821 to 701), injuries (4,555 to 2,903) and accidents (8,047 to 4,463) in boating have all gone down significantly.
Consulting With An Attorney After A Boating Accident
If you or someone you are close to was injured in a boating accident, it may be smart to consult with an experienced boating accident attorney. Handling a boating accident personal injury claim on your own can be complex, and an attorney with a strong track record representing boating accident victims can help you secure the compensation you deserve.
To schedule a free legal consultation with Attorney Chris Davis and have your personal injury case personally reviewed by our legal team, contact Davis Law Group, P.S., or call our office at (206) 727-4000 today.