How the Pandemic Affected Boating
A Dive Into the 2020 U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Statistics Reveal How the Pandemic Affected Boating in Ways Just Beginning to be Understood.
From 2019 to 2020, the total number of accidents increased 26.3 percent (4,168 to 5,265), and the number of non-fatal injured victims increased 24.7 percent (2,559 to 3,191). There is evidence that boating activity increased significantly during the pandemic, from reports of increased boat sales, insurance policies taken out, insurance claims, and calls for towing assistance. With the increased exposure (i.e., more boating hours), there was greater risk of deaths, injuries, and accidents. The Coast Guard is analyzing variables associated with boating activity to normalize this accident data.
Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2020, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 18 percent of total fatalities.
The report also shows that in 2020:
- The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, the highest in the program’s recent history. This rate represents a 25 percent increase from last year’s fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
- Property damage totaled about $62.5 million.
- Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.