Causes of Boating Accidents

As the boating season begins, the U.S. Coast Guard is, once again, reminding all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water. This means not operating a boat or any other water vessel recklessly, always making sure to wear a life jacket, taking a boating safety course; getting a free vessel safety check; and avoiding consumption of any impairing substance, the first of which is alcohol.

The U.S. Coast Guard maintains that the major type of water-related boating accident is collision of two boats. In 2008 alone, this type of accident numbered to 1237, injuring 856 and taking the lives of 60 others.

Boat collision is a result of the any one or a combination of any of the five major contributory factors in boat accidents. These factors include:

Operator inexperience. For the 15 years, operator inexperience has been the top factor in watercraft accidents. Many erroneously think that they will learn everything on the water. However, by not being familiar with boating laws and regulations, the rules on correct and proper navigation, and what should be done in weather-related emergencies, many boat operators only lead themselves, and their passengers, to dangerous situations.

  • Operator inattention. In 2008, inattentive boat operators caused 488 accidents which resulted to 28 deaths and 329 injuries. Inattention can be deadly. Even huge vessels (in the past) met tragic accidents because many crew members were either partying with their passengers or busy doing something else.
  • Improper lookout or improper forward watch. Many collisions can be avoided if a boat operator is able to navigate safely and so avoid anything that may cross or be along its path. An extra pair of eyes and ears would be a big help in assuring safety.
  •  Excessive speed. The impact created each time a boat bounces off and back on the water can stun and throw anyone overboard. Excessive speed increases the force of impact, putting everyone at much higher risk of getting injured. Too much speed also reduces a boat operator’s chance of reacting to emergencies on time.
  • Alcohol. Many boat accidents occurred because the operators were alcohol-impaired. Alcohol affects a boat operator’s vision, judgment, balance and coordination. Because of alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling over board have been common causes injuries and deaths.

As explained by a Charleston boat accident lawyer,out on the water, boat operators are expected to follow many laws. For instance, boat operators must observe the Rules of the Road, may not operate their vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, may not operate the boat in a manner that is reckless, and may not exceed certain speeds while within designated areas. Violation of any of these laws can very likely result to an accident, one wherein the liable operator can face civil and criminal lawsuits as a consequence.


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