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What Are the Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what are the most common causes of boat accidents

Boating activities are indeed fun and joyful, especially for those who enjoy watersports like jet skiing or surfing. However, these recreational hobbies can somehow turn into catastrophes for numerous reasons, including boaters’ carelessness and extreme weather.

In fact, Florida has recently reported an increase of 20% in watercraft incidents, which makes people question “What are the most common causes of boat accidents?” so that they could avoid it in the future.

Hence if you are looking for a place that can answer the given question, this article is perfect for you! In this post, aside from compiling various types of boating accidents, we will also provide you the ten most common causes of a vessel’s incident and that information can be divided into these categories so that everyone can follow easily.

Moreover, other safety tips and notices while traveling on boats will also be highlighted to make sure that boaters know what to do when these situations unfortunately happen. Continue reading to learn more!

Multiple Types of Deadly Boating Collisions


Experts have noticed that the most collisions on a boat mainly occur in the summer as this is the perfect season for boating experiences, even though the weather is often more extreme and unpredictable. In this part, we will discover some of the deadliest causes of most boating accidents or collisions ever happen on water.

1. Falling overboard of a pontoon boat

This is the primary cause of many boating accidents that lead to death. It is the location where passengers or operators fall off the vessel by mistake. It is also the major reason behind deadly watercraft accidents involving hunters and fishermen.

In spite of its safety design, the propeller on a pontoon might actually be dangerous. Some passengers become drunk while being on board and fall into the ocean. You’re fortunate if you’re rescued in time. But if you don’t, death is inevitable.

2. Capsizing on a yacht

Capsizing occurs when a boat overturns, usually due to a particularly large and forceful wave or a clash with some other vessels or an impediment. This happens mostly to large-size boats like yachts, although these expensive watercraft are famous for their safety features.

Due to their sizes, it is not safe to travel by yachts in extreme weather conditions, as breaking waves and hurricanes may attack the yacht’s exterior features like satellites and cut down the connection to the mainland.

3. Departed incidents on rental vessels

This refers to when a passenger deliberately exits the vessel of their own choice, like diving off or leaping in, instead of falling off, which often occurs due to an abrupt shift in direction and excessive speed. Especially when a person is drunk, leaving a vessel is very risky.

And why do these accidents seem to occur on rental boats? It is because most passengers on rental watercraft are unaware of safety precautions while using these vehicles. Moreover, those who rent vessels are mostly occasional boaters, hence they aren’t totally familiar with the vessel’s functioning.

Top 10 Most Popular Causes of Watercraft Incidents


After finding out those most dangerous types of vessel collisions, I believe you have raised certain awareness about possible threats during the boating experience.

Hence, acknowledging why these incidents happen is an excellent approach to understanding how to avoid them, and also other injuries and fatalities – the vast majority of which are preventable. Here are the top 10 causes of most boating accidents:

1. Equipment breakdown

Boats, similar to any other automobile, require routine maintenance. Failure to keep up with your vessel’s maintenance might lead to a collision or capsize. Problems with the motor or steering can result in catastrophic fatalities, and neglecting to carry the required equipment onboard, for instance, life preservers, navigational lights, or flares, can frequently exacerbate an already problematic situation.

2. Extreme weather conditions

Summer is a popular time for tourists to enjoy boating experiences. Despite the pleasant weather, most boat crashes happen during this season owing to high winds. When an untrained operator guides the tour, the danger increases.

You may now rely on your smartphone for weather information. If you’re inside the tower range, you can use weather apps or radars. The importance of an appropriate observation would be the same as understanding the weather.

3. Inexperienced boat controller

Knowledge and attention to boating rules are two factors that can ensure safety. Furthermore, the sailor should handle and control the vessel appropriately. It may be challenging at first, but you will be able to progress with practice.

You can take a boater training course to understand the laws and legislations of the waterways and obtain the essential expertise in managing a boat. Remembering what to do will keep both harm and insurance fees away.

4. Operator’s recklessness

Another reason for boating collisions related to the vessel operators is their recklessness. The US Coast Guard has reported that the prevalent cause of most boating accidents is the operator’s lack of concentration.

Boaters must keep in mind that safety is the primary responsibility of the water. Even while time spent on the lakeside with friends or family is often associated with enjoyment, it is critical to maintaining concentration on the surroundings anytime the vessel operates.

5. Drunk driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is not only forbidden on the road, but it is also banned on the waterways. It is illegal to operate a watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of higher than 0.08.

People frequently bring beer and other hard liquor onboard. However, if you’re the controller, limit the drinking to a minimum because everyone’s well being is on your shoulders. Also, in the case of facing an unexpected pullover from the Coast Guard, I believe you do not want to get into difficulty with the authorities.

6. Fire

Despite the fact that current boats have double-clamped fuel systems as well as spark-proof mechanical devices, it’s still a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on board. A dozen marine accidents occur as a result of large flames.

Take a moment to inspect the bilge for gas odors. The rainbow hue of the bilge water, and also gasoline leaks or spills, are signs of a potential fire. As a result, it’s best to switch on the bilge compressor before running the boat’s motor.

7. Running Around

You may be embarrassed if you run aground. In fact, you can quickly overcome it, but if this is out of control, it’ll be a negative experience. Aside from studying how to anchor and moor your vessel correctly, you must also know techniques to keep it afloat.

Maintain your sobriety, run at a slow pace, and be cautious. If you ever run around, assess the passengers immediately, then the hull. In some situations, a kedge anchor might be useful. To escape from being grounded, you may just need to maneuver a tiny craft from side to side.

8. Excessive speed

The safe speed must be maintained at all times, regardless of how skilled the boat’s controller is. The sea is a big stretch of water, but it should never be seen as a racetrack. If you maintain a slow speed, you will be able to detect obstructions and risks.

As predicted, there is legislation requiring boaters to maintain a safe acceleration. To avoid crashes and accidents, everybody should follow it. Because vision is poor at night, caution is advised. You can’t just depend entirely on your feelings.

9. Lacking safety gears

Some boaters make little effort to carry safety equipment such as PFDs or life vests before a voyage. They don’t even care to wear one too. You shouldn’t make that same mistake as these boaters. Please remember that they can save your life, especially when the sea is choppy and the weather is terrible.

Lights, sirens, flags, and backup engines are other safety equipment prepared before departing the port. The anchor is often-overlooked, yet it is the first line of defense when you face a storm.

10. Running out of fuel

It’s a good idea to keep up with your vessel’s upkeep. It is also critical to assess the amount of gasoline required for the distance you intend to go.

When you run out of fuel in a tiny body of water, it’s alright. A rescue squad can arrive on time to provide you with a can of gas. But what if you happen to be in the midst of the Gulf Stream? It’s a vision you don’t want to become a reality.

To learn more about the causes, please check out this video:


Experiencing boating activities is fun and joyful only when the safety of people is guaranteed. Therefore, every boater needs to prioritize their passengers’ well being and keep in mind all safety precautions so that those above accidents won’t ever happen.

We hope that our article on what are the most common causes of boat accidents has provided a proper insight into the potential causes of boating incidents so that you can avoid them easily. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let me know and leave a comment below.

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