Standardized Incident Reporting Terms & Definitions

The USCG/ERAC Accident Reporting Terms and Definitions Project---a 2011-2013 collaborative effort led by a team of State and Associate members of NASBLA's Engineering, Reporting & Analysis Committee (ERAC) and subject matter experts from the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Division---revised entries in five of the major incident report categories. The lists and a resolution in support of project activities were voted on and approved in 2012 and 2013 by NASBLA membership--that is, the States via their Boating Law Administrators. In the following years, some States began adapting the revisions into their own reporting systems even as the lists had not been formally adopted for national use on the Coast Guard's BAR form or BARD.entry.

As a result, five years later, the lists were taken up again, this time in the context of a more comprehensive national reporting project also involving the Coast Guard and the States with coordination by ERAC. The Recreational Boating Incident Reporting Policy Project, initiated in November 2017, resulted in over 120 consensus recommendations intended to inform the Coast Guard’s development of national reporting policies and procedures. Included in the array of recommendations were updates to the five original terms and definitions lists along with updates to other incident report data elements for national collection. On July 31, 2020, NASBLA membership accepted the entire recommendations package and approved its delivery to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary & Boating Safety .

In September 2023, the Coast Guard issued CG-BSX Policy Letter 23-01, CH-1, an update of CG-BSX Policy Letter 23-01, originally released to the States in January 2023. The policy letter addresses a segment of the recommendations on the reportability of certain types of incidents. The accident (incident) types entries from the 2012 and 2020 projects formed the basis for many of the terms and definitions incorporated into the 2023 policy.  As such, the entries used in the policy letter supersede the accident (incident) types lists from those prior projects. 

In the Reporting Terms and Definitions Category Lists section below is a document that maps the "old" (currently-used) to "new" Incident Type terms (effective Jan. 1, 2024 per CG-BSX Policy Letter 23-01, CH-1). Also in that section are the Contributing Factors/Causes, Operation, Activity, and Vessel Sub-Types lists from the 2012/2013 project and the 2020 recommended updates. The other guidance and documentation on this page were developed at the time the 2012-2013 versions were produced.

Reporting Terms and Definitions Category Lists

NOTE: Incident Types are from CG-BSX 23-01; other category lists are from original 2012/2013 project with 2020 project recommended updates

Resolution in Support of the 2012-2013 Project Activities

  • Resolution 2012 - 3 (Sept. 11, 2012): In support of the Accident Reporting Terms & Definitions Project, the adoption of standardized terms and definitions by the U.S. Coast Guard, and actions to facilitate their application.

Reporting Terms and Definitions 2012-2013 Supporting Documents/Resources


Summary Tables

Accident Reporting Terms & Definitions Reference and Resource Modules (v2013.2, Oct. 2014)

page last updated Nov. 8, 2023

The NASBLA Lighthouse

Spotlighting information, tools and resources for your reporting, data and research needs and challenges ...

RESOURCES - Incident Reporting
On the Horizon
Get Equipped
Lighthouse Discussion Forum
Lighthouse Library
About ERAC