Boat collisions occur across the country on an annual basis. Unfortunately, you cannot entirely eliminate boating accidents similar to car crashes on our roadways. However, it is important to remain mindful of the common causes. Remaining mindful will reduce the number of boat collisions because it helps operators be more aware of the most prevalent reasons. With that said, here are the top 5 reasons why boat accidents occur. 

Mechanical Failure

Interestingly enough, I witnessed a serious mechanical failure while returning to Florida from the Bahamas. 

I was traveling in a group and watched the steering fail on a Viking Sportfish. The boat suddenly veered hard to the port side while at cruising speed as a result of a hydraulic leak. From that point forward, the boat needed to be steered by use of the throttles only. Had another vessel been within 50 yards along the portside of the sportfish, a collision would have occurred. 

Without question, the list of parts that can fail on the boat or within the engine is endless. However, not all put you at risk of causing an accident. 

Keep in mind that some of the more serious failures included seizing an engine, losing electrical power, losing a propeller, and more. 

Unfortunately, any of the above can spell disaster, especially when operating in congested waters. 

Inexperienced Boat Operator

I’ll start off by saying that taking a boater safety course and passing the test does not qualify you as an experienced boater. 

An experienced boat operator is someone who has had ample time on the water driving the boat compared to studying facts on paper. 

As a former 200-ton captain, I can tell you that a classroom will not prepare you for departing docks, returning to the dock, operating in rough seas, navigating busy channels, or facing rough seas. 

Inexperienced boaters make bad decisions. Bad decisions unquestionably lead to accidents. Knowing how to navigate a channel on paper doesn’t always equate to making the right decision when you’re in the moment as a result of stress. 

Also, inexperienced boaters fail to read the water properly; therefore, they run aground at high speeds. 

Unfortunately, the number of reasons why inexperienced boaters cause accidents is extensive. 

Failing To Lookout Properly

During my time aboard yachts, we always had a two-person lookout at all times while the boat was underway. It is never a bad idea to do the same on a recreational vessel. There is no reason why the operator and passengers can’t keep their eyes focused on the waters ahead. 

Not only do boats collide with other boats, but vessels collide with fixed objects. Remember, the rules of the road state who is the stand-on vessel and who is the giveaway vessel. With that said, the operator must make the correct decision in a short amount of time. 

Failing to keep a lookout is often disastrous. Every year, boats collide with other vessels or objects, causing passengers to be severely injured or killed. Always pay attention to what’s ahead and steer clear of potential issues. 

High Speed

High-speed operation of vessels causes accidents for many reasons. First, pushing the limit when it comes to speed can cause a boat to become out of control.

An out-of-control vessel can lead to capsizing from it flipping or rolling over. High speeds, in combination with rough seas, increase the risk. 

Secondly, when driving fast, your time to react will be significantly reduced. For this reason, you are at risk of running around or hitting objects. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to slow the boat in time to avoid a collision. 

Importantly, during the nighttime hours, you should never travel fast. The combination of reduced visibility and high speed will give you little to no time to react. 

Distracted Driving

Without question, boat operators are more and more distracted every year as a result of onboard technology. 

Rather than focusing on the water ahead, the steering wheel, and the throttle, the driver is fidgeting with accessories. 

Remember, you should never play with your sound system, catch up on texts, or bury your face in navigation equipment. 

Another reason that operators become distracted is because they become immersed in conversation. Keep your level of engagement in a conversation at a minimum. You’ll need to be dialed in on operation in order to keep you and your passengers safe. 

Keep These Causes For Boating Accidents On Your Mind

You never want to be involved in a boat accident. The combination of a collision and water never leads to a good outcome. Unfortunately, passengers become thrown into the water, and injuries sustained prevent people from swimming; therefore, they ultimately drown. Avoid boating accidents at all costs by remaining vigilant.