Summertime comes with plenty of sunshine. Boating is a great way to cool off and have fun during those hot summer days. Unfortunately, a fun day can suddenly turn tragic. Though boating accidents can occur due to weather conditions most of them can be traced back to someone’s negligence. In 2017, Coast Guard reported 4,291 boating accidents with 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries.
What are the leading causes of boating accidents?
- Intoxication – Summer fun often includes alcohol consumption. Intoxication is quite common among boaters; you would like to think that the boat operator will stay sober. However, in many instances, he or she drinks together with passengers. Even if the driver stays, sober intoxicated passengers can be troublesome. They can distract the driver and even fall overboard. However, it is important to note that boating under the influence is a criminal offense and severely impairs balance and reaction time.
- Operator Inexperience – Operating a boat in most cases doesn’t require mandatory training. This presents many problems since many boat operators are ill-prepared to navigate through bad weather, equipment malfunction, and emergencies.
- Excessive Speed – The faster the boat, the more difficult it will be to respond to unforeseen obstacles and emergencies. With waters being unpredictable boat operators should take caution and keep their speed down.
- Operator Inattention – Boat operators are always expected to be alert. As the driver, you should pay keen attention to the weather, signs, the boat, and passengers. The boat may develop problems, or there may be a sudden change in weather requiring fast action.
- Equipment Failure – Boats, like all other equipment need proper care and maintenance. If your boat is not properly maintained you are more likely to develop mechanical problems on a cruise.
- No lanes –Unlike a highway, the open water of a lake or ocean does not have designated lanes of travel. As such boaters need to know the applicable rules of navigation and follow them closely.
- Weather – It is advisable that you check the weather forecast before set out for a day in the water. We all know that storms, rain and wind present challenges as you navigate through the water. However, hot sun can also cause dehydration that may cause weakness, sleepiness, and dizziness.
How do you prevent boating accidents?
- Do not drink and drive. Drinking impairs your judgment, slows your reaction time and affects your balance. Also the effects of alcohol on the human body are greatly amplified in the heat. You will become impaired faster than normal under hot conditions. It only takes a second to make a serious mistake. So, if you are drinking get a designated driver.
- Have everyone wear a life jacket. This is one of the easiest ways to save lives. Life jackets come in handy in case of an emergency and are ideal for people who don’t know how to swim.
- Don’t speed or take abrupt turns– Speeding on a boat increases your risk of crashing onto another boat or swimmer. It also greatly reduces the amount of time you have to stop in case there is an obstacle in your path. Also abruptly turning at speed is a common cause of boaters being ejected from their boats. Reduce speed when turning sharply.
- Pay close attention to the weather and surroundings. The weather can change suddenly, and obstacles such as rocks, currents, and shallows can easily cause an accident if not located on time.
Boating is so much fun but it has great risks attached if not done carefully. Both criminal and civil penalties can be imposed if someone is injured due to an operator’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident get experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.