Tennessee boating fatalities quadruple from 2019 to 2020

Published 5:28 pm Friday, January 22, 2021

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After a record-low year of eight boating-fatalities in 2019, the most boating-related fatalities in 37 years with 32 occurred on Tennessee waters in 2020, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in its year-end report.

Various outdoors activities saw a substantial increase in 2020 and boating was no exception. The TWRA reported a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers.

Preliminary numbers indicate about 30 percent of the 2020 fatal incidents had alcohol/drugs as a contributing factor. In addition to the fatalities, there were 61 serious injury incidents that injured 82 individuals and 82 additional property damage incidents.

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During the year, TWRA wildlife officers made 62 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. With the increased traffic, calls for service saw a leap. TWRA officers strive to practice social distancing to help protect the public as the pandemic continues.

As the new year is underway, TWRA wildlife officers would encourage the boating public to help keep Tennessee waterways safe by doing things such as:

1) Take a boater safety course.

2) Wear your life jacket while out on the water.

3) Be aware of the water conditions around dams, both above and below.

4) Always boat with a sober operator. Operating impaired is a crime.

5) Report unsafe operation, boat accidents, or law violations to your nearest TWRA dispatch center.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region Offices

West Tennessee (Region 1) – 1-800-831-1173
Middle Tennessee (Region 2) – 1-800-255-8972
Cumberland Plateau (Region 3) – 1-833-402-4699
East Tennessee (Region 4) – 1-800-831-1174