Boats: Are They Safer Than Cars Or Planes?

When you think about any method of transport, one of the first things that comes to mind is how safe is this? Where boats are concerned, the tranquil pace, time spent on the water and slow speeds compared to things like planes and cars make you believe that they’re one of the safest forms of getting about…Titanic, we’ll forget about you for now!

But what’s the reality? Are boats safer than cars or airplanes? What’s the likelihood of having a boating accident compared to one on the road? If you’ve been thinking about buying a boat but are worried about the potential risks, I’ve got you covered. I’m about to explain why boating is considered one of the safest methods of transport, and I think you’ll be surprised.

Boats, Planes, And Cars - The Safety Stats

One study, completed by Harvard University, showed that there was only a 1 in 1.2 million chance of being in a plane crash. To die in the same crash, the odds rise to 1 in 11 million. However, the annual number of fatalities on aircraft is between 1000 and 2000 according to the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives. That said, this figure is decreasing with only 359 deaths in 2021.

Where boats are concerned, only 5 deaths per 100,000 boat users are reported each year. It has also been shown that boaters have a 30% less chance of experiencing injury or death as a result of an incident compared to road users.

The statistics for car accidents, injuries, and fatalities are quite shocking. It may surprise you to learn that road traffic accidents are now considered the most common cause of death. And that’s across the entire planet with more than 1.35 million people losing their lives each year on the roads. That doesn’t even include the number of serious and minor injuries that occur as a result of car accidents.

It’s pretty obvious that boat owners face the least number of risks when using their transport but of course, there are factors that will affect how safe your boat is. For the most part, you can rest assured that you’ll be OK out on the water but I’d like to take a look at some of the pros and cons of boating compared to other methods of travel in terms of safety.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Boat Accidents?

If you are travelling by boat then you need to have your wits about you, especially if you are the captain. One of the most common reasons for boating accidents is that drivers are under the influence of substances such as drugs or alcohol. As a result, the risk of human error rises significantly. Moreover, when you’re intoxicated, it’s easy to become over-confident and take risks you wouldn’t normally take. In the US, in a single year, it’s believed that intoxication was responsible for around 23% of boating deaths.

Another common reason for accidents on the water is down to a lack of experience. While boating may look easy, it isn’t and you’ll need to make sure you have the relevant skills and knowledge to operate the boat safely.

Also keep in mind that things like weather and water conditions can affect how safe it is to travel. This is something you must assess before heading out and experience goes a long way in judging this.


There are a huge number of different types of boat including personal craft, ferries, cruise ships and much more. The type of boat you are travelling on will play a part in how safe it is. Generally speaking, using personal watercraft is much more risky than using a commercial boat since accidents are more likely among inexperienced users.

If you’re on a commercial vessel, the company is responsible for your safety so there will be a lot of things in place to ensure this. Moreover, captains are required to undergo intense training and aren’t allowed to sail until they are completely competent and qualified. So, heading out on this type of boat can be considered one of the safest.

If you are manning a personal watercraft, make sure that you complete relevant training and always keep your wits about you. Don’t consume alcohol or take drugs and only sail when the conditions are optimum. Following these key rules should make every adventure safe and enjoyable.


By almost anybody’s standards, travelling by plane is the safety mode of transport there is. You might not agree with this because there seem to be a lot of air accidents. However, this isn’t because there is a higher number, it’s because when they do happen, they’re far more catastrophic so they tend to make the headlines.

Whether you are flying by private jet or on a commercial airline, the chances of having an incident are incredibly low. Of course, there are risks involved and while this is the safest method of transport, things can and do go wrong. That said, with constant improvements in aviation technology, things are getting safer all the time.

Moreover, since air accidents are so devastating, airlines use these as an opportunity to learn how to do better. So when you travel by air, you can feel confident that you’re under the care of people with the best knowledge there is.


Moving onto cars and the number of road traffic accidents each year is astonishing. It’s no wonder when there are more and more cars on the road and human error is extremely high. When you’re driving, you might feel as though you’re the most responsible person ever behind the wheel. But all it takes is a mistake from another road user and you could find yourself in an accident.

What’s more, you have to remember that getting a driving licence doesn’t require much. You typically only have to pass one test and it can take as little as a few months to learn the skills you need to pass. Many people say that you really only learn to drive properly once you have passed your driving test. On the other hand, boat and airplane captains have to undergo far more intense and lengthy training with several assessments.

In your first year of driving, your risk of having an accident is at its highest. This largely comes down to human error but there are many accidents that involve intoxication and these can be fatal. So, when it comes to vehicle safety, you’re more likely to have an accident in a car than you are in any other type of transport. You might not think that there are as many accidents as there are, but it’s thought that there are around 50 million each year, and that’s only those that result in non-serious injuries. But you don’t hear about these because if they were all reported, we’d never hear any other news.


When we compare the safety between boats and other forms of transport like cars and airplanes, the answer is obvious. Boats are one of the safest ways to get around and it’s highly unlikely you’d have an accident. That said, planes are considered the safest mode of transport with an incredibly unlikely chance of having an accident. Finally, cars are pretty lethal when you think about it with an astonishing 50 million accidents a year around the world.

If you’re keen to get out on the water, there’s really no need to worry about safety. Provided you use your boat correctly, don’t drive it while under the influence of substances, and keep a close eye on conditions, you should have nothing but a wonderful experience.



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