Boating deaths in Tennessee highest in 37 years


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reported the most boating-related deaths on Tennessee waterways in 2020 in 37 years after a record-low in 2019.

The TWRA reported 32 people died on Tennessee waters in 2020 compared to eight in 2019.

There was a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers in 2020, according to the TWRA.

Preliminary numbers from the TWRA’s yearly report indicate about 30% of 2020 fatal incidents included alcohol or drugs as a contributing factor. There were also 61 serious injury incidents that left 82 people injured in addition to 82 property damage incidents.

In 2020, TWRA wildlife officers made 62 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. With more people on the water, calls for TWRA assistance also increased.

The TWRA would like to encourage the boating public to help keep Tennessee waterways safe by doing things such as:

  • Take a boater safety course.
  • Wear your life jacket while out on the water.
  • Be aware of the water conditions around dams, both above and below.
  • Always boat with a sober operator. Operating impaired is a crime.
  • Report unsafe operation, boat accidents, or law violations to your nearest TWRA dispatch center.

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