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Report: Boating accidents and injuries skyrocketed last year

It’s arguably the best time of year in Elkhorn. Summer in our part of Wisconsin means heat, lush greenery, and lots of outdoor activities such as fishing or boating at nearby Lake Geneva, Delavan Lake, Lake Como, the Twin Lakes, etc.

Tourists come pouring into the area, and when they’re combined with recreation-seeking locals, the boat traffic at places such as Lake Geneva can feel like Interstate 43 at its busiest.

Common causes of boating accidents

Unfortunately, the dangers of the highway are often mirrored in the dangers on waterways. Boating accidents are typically the result of factors such as:

  • Impairment (the leading cause of boating accidents)
  • Boater inattention (the waterway version of distracted driving)
  • Excess speed
  • Navigational rules violations
  • Boater inexperience

As you can see, there are many parallel risky behaviors in boating and driving.

Boating crash statistics

One more parallel between the two: just as traffic accidents are on the rise, so are recreational boating accidents.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that there were 767 boating fatalities across the nation last year, a 25 percent increase from 2019.

Injuries way up, too

The Coast Guard says there were 5,265 boating accidents last year, up 26.3 percent from 2019’s total. The number of people injured in the crashes jumped, too: up 24.7 percent last year from 2019.

There’s lots of evidence that there was a significant increase last year in boating activity. Boat sales nationwide were up, as were insurance sales, insurance claims and calls for assistance.

Let’s hope that 2021’s boaters have learned valuable lessons from last year’s dismal safety showing so that everyone can enjoy our area’s natural wonders crash-free.

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