« Back to Blog

Coast Guard 2022 Recreational Boating Statistics

Posted on July 10, 2023

The U.S. Coast Guard has released the latest recreational boating statistics, including trends in accidents, deaths, and injuries. Accident reporting is mandated by federal law, and is required whenever there’s a death, missing person (counted as a fatality), personal injury, or property damage.

In 2022, the latest year for available data, there were 4,040 boating accidents, 636 deaths, 2,222 injuries, and an estimated $63 million dollars in property damage. An analysis of the numbers shows 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, which is a 1.8% decrease from the 2021 fatality rate. However, there were 1.6% fewer recreational vessels registered in 2022 as compared to 2021, and that closes the gap.

The top five types of accidents, in order, were collision with a recreational vessel, collision with a fixed object, flooding/swamping, grounding, and falling overboard. Of the deaths where the cause was known, 75% of accident victims drowned, and 85% were not wearing a life jacket. The majority of drowning victims, 3 out of 4, were on vessels less than 21 feet in length (when length was known).

What caused the accidents? Alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in boating deaths. It was also the leading factor in 16% of the fatalities where the primary cause was known. Just this week, a man was arrested after injuring 9 people in a boat crash on the Schuylkill River. Officers say the driver was under the influence when he crashed into a concrete pillar.

Other contributing factors included operator inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure. In 74% of the deaths, the boat operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Navigation rules violations were a contributing factor in 50% of accidents, 35% of deaths and almost 60% of injuries. Weather played a role in only 221 of the accidents and caused 44 deaths and 77 injuries.

Collisions with vessels and other objects frequently were the first event in accidents. Collisions were associated with 55% of accidents, 21% of deaths, and 53% of injuries. Being struck by a propeller caused 41 deaths and 182 injuries. The most common type of vessel to be in an accident were open motorboats, which accounted for 47% of the accidents and deaths. This was followed by personal watercraft at 18% and cabin motorboats at 14%.

For more information, or to see the full report for 2022, click here.

Negligence or mechanical malfunctions are common reasons for boating accidents. If you or someone you love was injured in a boating accident and believe that negligence was a factor, please contact us. Having a better understanding of your legal options may help.