Boating is fun and recreational, but it can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were a total of 5,265 boating accidents in 2020, including 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Tragically, the fatality rate rose by 25 percent from the prior year. While operator inattention, inexperience and excessive speed are some of the most common causes of boating accidents, many of these incidents could have been prevented by taking proper safety measures.
Some crucial safety tips to keep in mind while boating include the following:
- Don’t operate a boat while you’re under the influence — Alcohol use is the leading cause of boating accident fatalities. Not only is operating a boat while you’re under the influence dangerous, but it is also illegal. Refraining from drinking while boating can keep yourself and your passengers safe and can also help to avoid criminal penalties.
- Make sure your boat has adequate safety equipment — Every boat must be equipped with life jackets, flotation devices, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and other emergency supplies.
- Ensure the operator and passengers wear life jackets — Among the boating accident fatalities that occurred as a result of drowning in 2020, 86 percent of the victims were not wearing life jackets. It’s essential to keep an adequate number of life jackets on board for all passengers and ensure they wear them.
- Maintain the boat properly — It’s vital to keep the boat and all safety equipment in good working order. Machinery failure is a common cause of boating accidents that may be avoided with regular inspection and maintenance.
- Don’t boat in bad weather conditions — It’s important to check the weather report before you head out on the water. If you’re already on the water and notice a storm approaching or conditions become perilous, it’s best to return to shore.
- Take a boating safety class — According to Coast Guard data, 77 percent of boating fatalities in 2020 occurred on vessels where the operator had not received any instruction in boating safety.
- Know the navigation rules and follow them — Just as there are rules on the road, there are safety and navigation rules on the water. It’s crucial to learn proper on-water navigation and become familiar with the boating laws to minimize the chance of an accident.
By following these basic safety guidelines, boaters can significantly reduce the risk of an accident and keep their passengers safe. If you have suffered injuries due to a boat operator’s negligence or failure to adhere to safety protocol, you may be entitled to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. provides skilled counsel and high-quality legal services for a wide variety of personal injury matters, including boating accidents, in the Tampa area. Call 813-254-2637 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.