The wise words of Smokey Bear about personal responsibility are also applicable to reporting boating accidents.

With car accidents, it’s typically the responsibility of law enforcement to file a report. But with boating accidents, that responsibility falls on you, the operator or owner of each boat involved. Many boaters forget this, so spread the word.

Accident reporting icon showing a shield with an exclimation point in the middle




accident reporting

Anecdotal evidence suggests that boating accidents are being under reported. This may be because many boaters and boat operators are unaware that accident reporting is their responsibility, even if the true cost of the accident or injury is discovered at a later date.




Guidelines for when and how to file can get a little complicated, as with most types of forms. The language can be confusing. To be safe (pun intended), we recommend downloading forms from your state’s boating authority and keeping a few blank accident reporting forms on your boat or in your vehicle. The filing criteria can be found on the forms, which will help you fill it out as best you can. You can always reach out to where you got the forms for help.

download icon, orange shaped like documentThe accident reporting form is available for download from our resource library.

Reporting boating accidents is important because the data helps the U.S. Coast Guard identify boat defects and boater behaviors that cause injuries and take lives. With those statistics, they’re empowered to observe trends in accidents and prescribe mitigating measures such as laws, design change and weight limits.

The more accurate and complete the accident report, the better job they can do to help us all at Boat Live 365. So there is a silver lining – your mistake can help your fellow boaters in the future.

As human-propelled boats – kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) – gain in popularity it is important to reach out to these user groups and to make them aware of their responsibilities. That makes it doubly important to report accidents involving these types of craft so we can all be safer on the water. And if you know someone who is a human-powered boater, encourage them to get safety education.


Water wave


lighthouse graphic

Boating is serious fun. We’ve provided a variety of advocate tools and outreach methods, choose what works best for you and your community.

  • Visit spread the word for easy outreach through personal social media outlets and boating forums.
  • Provide year-round education on all boating safety topics – download pamphlets, flyers, banners, and posters. Great event materials. Search by topic in the resource section.
  • Download our marketing playbook, an advocates dream resource for creating change. Find it under the Boat Live 365 topic in our resource section.
  • Don’t know where to start?  Contact us. We’re happy to help.


*U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics Report

download icon, orange shaped like documentVisit our resource library for downloads, event materials, tips and ideas on how to create a safe boating culture 365 days a year.

safety training USCG app icon

Download the official USCG Boating Safety App in the App store and request emergency assistance in real-time!

america's boating club, united states power squadrons logo

Take an in- person seminar or boating course. America’s Boating Club has a wide variety of learning opportunities for everyone.

To truly spread the Boat Live 365 message, please make a concerted effort to discuss and promote all of the “Serious Fun Topics” together, all year long.

Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the U.S. Coast Guard.