Boaters can’t control a lot of things – the weather and other boaters being two of the more potentially unpredictable factors. But there is one thing boaters should try to perfect – safety. 

In 2012 there were 4,515 boating-related accidents nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Of those incidents, 651 deaths resulted, and 17% of those deaths involved alcohol. But even sober drivers are plagued with operator inattention and inexperience, which accounts for a full 30% of all injuries. In fact, operator inattention and inexperience, as well as improper lookout, were more common factors in accidents than alcohol, according to Coast Guard studies. However, the seriousness level shot up when alcohol was involved, with a higher percentage of deaths compared to accidents that happened while sober. 

379 of those who died in 2012 boating accidents were not wearing lifejackets, even if there were lifejackets available on board. 

These are all things well within the powers of the boaters to manage. In order to help decrease the likelihood of an accident, there are many classes boaters can take to learn better skills. A great resource for them can be found in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Boating Safety Education database, in which you can easily search for upcoming classes in your location. You can also find boating safety courses here, including some online programs, another resource brought to you by the Coast Guard.

It’s up to boaters to prepare themselves for worst-case scenarios, and that begins with property boating safety. If you’ve never taken a boating safety course, every state and national boating agency will encourage you to do so – even if your state doesn’t require it. If you’re just taking a course to get your license, you’re taking it for the wrong reason. Safety is much more important than a card in your wallet. Even boaters who have completed a course can learn new tips and skills, and refresh their memories, with these useful guides, published through Boat Ed.


Bill Coats is a lawyer experienced with getting results in boating accident cases, including $2.5M for the family of a teenager killed in a jet-ski crash. For more information about how he can help you, feel free to contact him


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