Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents

Wake on power boat

Summertime in Fresno is the perfect time to hit the water and enjoy the sun. However, this time of year also means an increased risk of potential boating injuries According to the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, in 2016, 588 boating accidents resulted in 50 wrongful deaths. Since there are more boaters than ever on California waterways, it’s important to be aware of the factors that lead to boating accidents and how to stay safe on the water.

Here are some of the most common causes of boating accidents.


Even the most experienced of boaters can fall inattentive behind the helm. Operating a boat is a major responsibility, and the unpredictability of weather, waves, and other boaters means the boat operator should always pay attention to their surroundings. Think of boating as the same as driving a car; each should require proper attention. Inattentive operating is the leading cause of boat accidents.

Improper Lookout

With the multitude of factors at play, while operating a boat, it is important to have a designated lookout to provide an extra set of eyes on potential hazards. Cars have mirrors to alert you to all sides of your vehicle, but it’s harder to know what is happening around you when operating a boat. Without a lookout, boaters are more prone to accidents and potential injuries.

Inexperienced Operator

An inexperienced boat operator also increases the risk of injuries and accidents on the water. Just like how young drivers need proper instruction and supervision when learning to operate cars, new boaters should have extra supervision as they learn the basics of boating.


Excessive speed on the water increases the risk of accidents as it shortens your time to react to other boats or hazards on the water. Many waterways observe speed limits, just like roads, to ensure the safety of everyone on the water. Make sure to follow these closely, as it will make sure you and your passengers are safe. In addition, make sure to follow the waterways’ navigational rules of the direction to travel or of potential slow-down areas because of wakes.

Alcohol Use

Just like driving, alcohol prohibits your reaction time and impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Alcohol use is a major contributor to the number of fatalities on the water nationwide. Most states have laws against drinking while operating a boat, which is for your and your passengers’ safety.

Improper Boat Maintenance

Failures in boat motors or hulls contribute to problems on the water, including the risk of fire or drowning. Conducting regular maintenance on your boat and ensuring it is in tip-top shape will reduce the risk of injuries.

Inclement Weather

Rain and high winds can lead to other operational problems with boats. Make sure to stay up to date with the weather forecast to avoid the potential for inclement weather and the risks that weather brings with waves and choppy wakes.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident caused by another party’s negligent boating behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. At Fowler | Helsel | Vogt, we have decades of experience in fighting for victims of boating accidents. Allow us to fight for you and your safety.

Contact Fowler | Helsel | Vogt at (559) 900-1280 for a free consultation today.

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