‘The Ocean State’s Ideal for Boating, But Report Reveals Rhode Island’s Waters Are Also Dangerous


Rhode Island certainly deserves its nickname of “the Ocean State,” as anyone who has visited our shores knows. In summer, the state becomes a haven for boaters – who need to be aware of certain safety risks on the water.

A recent report on recreational boating accidents from the U.S. Coast Guard reveals some sobering statistics about boating safety in Rhode Island:

  • The death rate in Rhode Island boating accidents was 8.3 deaths per 100,000 registered vessels in 2014. This number is more than 1.5 times greater than the national average, which is 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered vessels. It does not account for the many serious injuries Rhode Island boaters suffer, nor does it account for deaths in non-registered vessels like canoes or kayaks.
  • The 2014 fatality rate increased dramatically over the previous year’s death rate, which was 2.5 deaths per 100,000 registered vessels.
  • Rhode Island boaters experienced serious injuries at a rate of 103.8 injuries per 100,000 registered vessels. Alcohol use, lack of proper boater licensing and neglect of boating safety procedures were major factors in most boating injuries last year.
  • The most common type of injury-causing accidents on Rhode Island waters involved collisions between boats. Boats that ran aground or struck a fixed object because the operator was not paying proper attention to his or her surroundings also resulted in a number of serious injuries. Seven lives were lost in drownings related to boating accidents in 2014.

How Can Rhode Island Boaters Stay Safer on the Water?

For many Rhode Island families and visitors, boating is the highlight of the summer. If you’re heading out onto the water, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Check the weather. Poor weather can easily cause a boating accident. Get a detailed weather forecast before you head out, and keep a weather radio handy for updates.
  • Double-check your boat’s safety equipment before you launch. The U.S. Coast Guard provides guidelines for boating safety equipment.
  • Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) rated for your weight and the activity, and insist that everyone on your vessel do the same. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that up to 90 percent of boating accident drownings could have been prevented if the person in question had been wearing a PFD at the time of the accident.
  • Avoid alcohol if you are operating a boat. Drunk boating is just as hazardous as drunk driving.
  • Take a safe boating course to learn how to operate your vessel properly, including the rules for interacting with other watercraft you encounter.

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our experienced boating accident attorneys encourage fellow Rhode Islanders to enjoy their time on the water – but to do so safely. If you’re injured by another boater’s negligence this summer, contact Rhode Island’s Trusted Personal Injury Attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush to discuss your legal rights and options. We provide free case reviews to victims with potential personal injury claims. Call us at 401-443-2999 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.