The United States Coast Guard’s 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics contains statistics on recreational boating accidents and state vessel registration. In 2018, the Coast Guard counted 4,145 accidents that involved 633 deaths, 2,511 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
Where boating safety course instruction was known, 74% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 18% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
In New Jersey, a person less than 13 years of age may not operate a motorized vessel. A person 13 through 15 years of age may operate a vessel powered by an electric motor or vessels 12 feet or longer and powered by a motor less than ten horsepower only if they have successfully passed a boating safety education course approved by the New Jersey State Police. A person under the age of 16 may not operate a PWC. A person 16 years old or older, may operate a motorized vessel if they have successfully completed an approved boating safety course.
The Westfield Investigative Group, LLC investigates pleasure boating, personal watercraft, and towed watersports accidents and incidents. We also offer to the legal community consultation regarding the curriculum of the boat safety course, instruction methods, and final examination requirements. Those students who successfully complete the final exam have demonstrated an understanding of basic boating knowledge necessary for safe boating. Involvement in an accident or incident is an indicator that the boat course trained boater failed to act in accordance with their training.