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What are some boating accident statistics?

Karns & Kerrison

Boating accidents occur quite often on Rhode Island waterways. They can be quite tragic, causing severe injuries, death and property damage. Such accidents are more common than you may think, especially those involving recreational vehicles. 

According to the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a 2016 report, there were almost 4,500 accidents involving recreational boats that year in U.S. waters. The actual number was 4,463. Those accidents resulted in 2,903 injuries and 701 deaths.

Most accidents occurred on a boat where the driver had no boat safety training. In addition, most accidents involved alcohol use. There were 282 accidents with 87 deaths attributed to alcohol use. With this in mind, operator errors contributed the most to accidents. 

Most of the accidents happened on open motorboats, which made up 47 percent of accidents. Personal watercraft and cabin motorboats made up 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Most fatalities were due to drowning with the total percentage at 80. Of those people, 83 percent were not wearing life jackets. Trauma was the second leading cause.

Boating accidents in 2016 that resulted in a fatality happened most often in July and June. The least fatal accidents occurred in December and January. This information makes sense due to the weather at those times of year and the number of boaters who are likely out during those months. Of those accidents where the time was known, the most occurred between 2:31 AM and 4:30 AM. However, in the majority of accidents, the actual time was unknown. This information is educational only an is not intended as legal advice. 


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If you or your loved one suffered severe, life-altering injuries due to someone else’s negligence, we are here to help you fight for justice. For answers to your questions or to schedule a free consultation, contact our personal injury team at (888) 281-3100. We offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay attorneys’ fees after we have recovered compensation on your behalf.

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