Ohio is home to thousands of lakes and bodies of water used by many fishing and recreational boaters. Summit Lake and the Portage Lakes are just a stone's throw away from Akron's city limits.
Since we're currently in the midst of peak boating season, it's important that vessel owners and occupants understand that boating can be just as risky as driving.
What national boating crash statistics show
According to the 2017 report released by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the five most common types of boating crashes included:
- Collisions with other recreational boats - 1,145 incidents, 49 deaths, and 712 injuries
- Collisions with fixed objects - 470 incidents, 63 deaths, and 327 injuries
- Grounding - 368 incidents, 17 deaths, and 224 injuries
- Falls overboard - 306 injuries, 179 deaths, and 126 injuries
The ten primary causes of boating crashes across the United States included:
- Operator inattention - 620 incidents, 45 deaths, and 381 injuries
- Improper lookout - 471 incidents, 23 deaths, and 337 injuries
- Operator inexperience - 436 incidents, 63 deaths, and 249 injuries
- Machinery malfunction - 305 incidents, nine deaths, and 80 injuries
- Alcohol impairment - 275 incidents, 102 deaths, and 227 injuries
- Excessive speed - 269 incidents, 11 deaths, and 247 injuries
- Navigation rules violation - 257 incidents, 22 deaths, and 165 injuries
- Inclement weather - 198 incidents, 40 deaths, and 60 injuries
- Hazardous water conditions - 187 incidents, 64 deaths, and 124 injuries
- Force of wave/wake - 169 incidents, 17 deaths, and 148 injuries
Prevalence of statewide and local boating crashes
Records from Ohio State Parks & Watercraft show that in 2018, there were 15 statewide incidents resulting in 17 deaths. Four of these incidents were caused by alcohol or drug impairment. Another three were caused by operator inattention. As of July 8, we already had seven incidents resulting in seven deaths in 2019.
In 2016, Summit County had two accidents involving two vessels and one fatality. In 2015, there was only one accident involving two vessels with no injuries or deaths reported, but the previous years showed something grimmer:
- 2014: five accidents involving nine vessels and three injuries
- 2013: five accidents involving 10 vessels and one death
- 2012: four accidents involving five vessels and two injuries
- 2011: five accidents involving seven vessels and one injury
According to Ohio law, boating crashes must be reported within five days if any of the following circumstances occur:
- A person dies or goes missing (deaths must be reported within 24 hours)
- A person is injured and needs treatment beyond first aid
- Combined damage exceeds $500
- A vessel is completely lost or damaged
Accidents can be reported by calling any of the following numbers:
- #ODNR from cellphone
- 1-877-4BOATER (1-877-426-2837 statewide only)
- (614) 265-6480
You may also obtain a report form online from the USCG.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a boating crash, it's critical that you take legal action and secure a solid personal injury claim. The attorneys at Gervelis Law Firm can help recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and additional pain and suffering. Our Ohio law offices are located in Akron, Canfield, Warren, and Toledo. Contact us online today to get started.