With so much natural beauty and opportunities to enjoy miles of lakes, rivers and coastline, it is no wonder that boating and water sports are so popular in South Carolina. From sailboats, speed boats and yachts to deep-sea fishing boats and personal watercraft, SC waterways are busier than ever.
Unfortunately, more people on and in the water may also mean a greater risk of injury or even death, especially when individuals fail to follow the law and basic safety guidelines.
How many boats are on southeastern SC waterways?
There are over 500,000 registered boats in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Charleston County has the highest number of registered craft, including over 27,200 boats and over 1,400 personal watercraft. In Dorchester and Berkeley Counties there are roughly another 20,000 registered boats and over 1,600 personal watercraft.
How frequent are boating accidents?
The SCDNR reports that 2021 marked the highest number of recreational boating accidents in the last 10 years. In addition to 201 boating accidents, there were 21 fatalities reported that year.
South Carolina is not the only state to see a major increase in both recreational boaters and boating accidents. According to the U.S. coast guard, 2020 saw over 5,200 accidents, 3,100 injuries and 760 deaths. Compared to 2019, that was a 24.7% increase in injuries and a 25.1% increase in fatalities compared to 2019.
Unfortunately, a booming boating and watersport industry means more people who may be inexperienced, unprepared or simply reckless. Those heading out to enjoy the water should make sure they have appropriate safety gear on board, understand SC maritime laws and keep an eye out for negligent boaters whose behavior could put others at risk.