If you are headed out onto the water anywhere near South Carolina's beautiful coastal areas, it's important to understand both how to safely navigate the waterways and what kinds of accidents to look out for. That means knowing what to do to keep everyone in your boat safe and what to expect when it comes to possible hazards and other problems. Recreational boating covers a range of activities, and some carry more risk than others. Knowing what to expect is the first step toward risk management
2015 trends in boating accidents
Currently, 2015 is the most recent year covered by the U.S. Coast Guard's accident statistics and recreational boating survey information. Looking at the basic overview of information in the report's executive summary yields some surprising information, such as:
- The Coast Guard counted a total of 4,158 accidents resulting in 626 deaths.
- The fatality rate of 5.3 individuals per 100,000 represents a 1.9 percent increase over the previous year.
- The number of accidents last year increased 2.3 percent, the number of deaths increased 2.6 percent, but the number of injuries decreased by 2.4 percent.
- 76 percent of all boating fatalities where the cause of death could be determined indicated drowning was the main cause, 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a lifejacket.
- Eight out of 10 boaters who drowned were using boats that were 21 feet long or fewer.
There was a 0.5 percent increase in the number of recreational boats registered in the U.S. during the year.
Understanding these trends
Putting the information together, it begins to look like boaters are enjoying better safety when it comes to taking measures that prevent injury during an accident, but the under-use of life preservers is a major contributor to boating accident deaths. It is impossible to make cause/effect statements that are accurate without more precise analysis of the information, but a few things are clear:
- Boating accidents are increasing at a rate faster than new boats registered, so the risk of an accident to individual boaters is increasing slightly.
- Using a life preserver will greatly reduce the likelihood of death by drowning, which is the most major known cause of death during boating accidents.
- Individuals on small crafts are especially at risk.
If you are injured
Prevention is the best way to forestall catastrophe, but it is not always an option. If you are injured in a boat accident, talk to an experienced accident attorney who can advise you about your rights. You may be able to collect damages to offset the cost of medical expenses and lost income, but you will only know if you get relevant legal advice.