You want to avoid these Common Mishaps On Boat Trips

What are the most common mishaps on boats?

The leading known factor in fatal boat accidents and the main cause of all known deaths is alcohol consumption, which accounts for 23% of all deaths. The length of the boat is also well known: eight out of ten boaters drowned on a ship less than 21 feet long. If you were in an accident that had a death or damages over $2000, you must report it here .

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Podcast: Most common causes of boat accidents
45% of accidents are caused by these three alone

Alcohol Consumption and boating

image of boat accident
Image of boat accident

Alcohol consumption ranked last in the top five in terms of the number of accidents caused (275 out of 4,291 boat accidents), at 6%. Only 10.2% of deaths were caused by boaters under the influence of alcohol, which accounts for more than 15% of boat deaths. Machine failure accounted for 30.5% of boat accidents and caused the lowest number of injuries and deaths among the top five (9 dead and 80 injured).

Before setting sail, it is important to know the most common causes of boat accidents and how to avoid them. There were 4,064 boat accidents in 2014, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Operator inexperience, restless passengers, operator inattention, bad weather conditions and equipment failure were among the causes. There were 5264 boat accidents in 2020 and 13% of them were deadly. Let’s go over them:

Most Common Reasons for Boat Accidents

Pie chart: most common causes of boat accidents
Pie chart: most common causes of boat accidents

Driver Inattention

The three most common causes of boating accidents in the United States are driver inattention, driver inexperience and improper supervision. Safety experts say accidents can also occur due to machine failures and boaters going overboard to troubleshoot. Propeller injuries can happen, and accidents can happen when the boat is hit by a solid object that collides with another ship, causing the boat and passengers to go overboard.

Hundreds of accidents on charter boats have resulted in serious injuries and even deaths at sea. While some of these accidents are due to unforeseen circumstances such as unsafe waves or inaccurate weather forecasts, most charter boat accidents are incidents caused by operator error, misconduct or neglect.

Traumatic head injuries and other serious physical effects caused by improper docking, collision or grounding. Broken bones and fractures while sailing in heavy seas. Injuries and deaths caused by improper operation of the boat, resulting in collisions and grounding.

Boat Capsizing

image of a flipped or capsized boat
image of a flipped or capsized boat

Just because the water seems to be open does not mean that it is open. The number one cause of death in boat accidents is capsizing.

Young Boaters

Inexperienced boaters: Younger boaters require mandatory boatmaster training, but older boaters do not need to complete the course to steer a boat. As a result, many boat operators are unfamiliar with the rules of the water, which can lead to accidents.

Life Jackets

Not wearing a life jacket: Boat accidents occur when the occupants of the boat wear life jackets, and the chances of surviving a boat accident are very high. Make sure your children under 13 are wearing life jackets.

Boat Collisions

Motorboats of 16 feet or less may collide with another boat, and the incident may be serious. When a boat capsizes, the occupants must stay in the boat to ensure that their passengers and operators remain dry.


Take care of your surroundings when sailing your boat. Many boats claim to have come close to rocks or other sunken objects when you cannot see into the water. If your boat has an echo sounder, pay attention and drive carefully. Follow the right path through marked canals and watch out for water hazards.

boat accident
boat accident


It is important to use common sense, for example to remain constantly vigilant, to work at a safe speed and to ensure that passengers remain close to the boat rails. The rules of water are hardly different from those on the street.

Following The Rules

The US Coast Guard estimates that 70% of boat accidents are caused by operator errors. Before you leave the dock, make sure you know the rules and your responsibilities. When the wind blows from the shore, approach the dock at an angle of 20-30 degrees to balance the wind. This will bring the boat within two feet of the dock and the wind will pull the boat forward. As you approach the dock from the shore, make sure your bumper is ready to prevent damage to your boat, reduce your speed and make sure the docking line is safe.

Out Of Sight

The second most common cause of boating accidents in the United States was improper sightings, which caused 506 accidents in 2019, injuring 425 people and killing 26. It is important to be careful when operating a boat. If the viewpoints do not recognize threats and dangers, an accident can occur. If a boater is busy doing something else on the boat, he should ask the passenger to look out for him.

It is easy to let attention slip away from the boat. Even if you are a good swimmer, the urgency of going into the water and tiredness can cause stress that leaves you helpless. The first and most common cause of boat accidents is some kind of collision.


The risk of slipping and falling is one of the most common accidents that occur on a ship’s deck. It is not as stupid as it sounds, and injuries can range from serious physical harm to death. Slips can happen at any time, but the most likely activity is on the deck.

Boat Maintenance

One of the most common ways for a boat to sink is if the bilge pump or its floating switch is contaminated with grit and dirt. And we’re not talking about wax laundry or dirt and rubble. Another common cause of the sinking is mooring – boats are left in the water all year round, which can clog and pollute everything.

Infographic: Main causes of Boat accidents
Infographic: Main causes of Boat accidents

Reference: Read the 2020 Recreational Boating Statistic report here.

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Infographic: common causes of boat accidents
Infographic: common causes of boat accidents

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