TENNESSEE, USA — 2020 was the deadliest year on Tennessee's waterways in 37 years.
According to TWRA, there were 32 boating-related fatalities last year, attributed in part to an increase in outdoor activities like boating because of the pandemic.
The TWRA reported a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers as people looked for ways to enjoy themselves in a safer environment.
Thirty percent of those fatalities were alcohol or drug-related, according to preliminary numbers. There were also 61 accidents with serious injuries to 82 people and 82 additional accidents with property damages.
TWRA wildlife officers made 62 arrests for boating under the influence (BUI) in 2020 and there was an increase in calls for help last summer.
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.
The increase in 2020 came after a record-low year for boating fatalities in 2019, with eight.
TWRA offers these boating tips for safety:
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.