Why Do Boating Accidents Happen?

Accidents occur on the water every year. From small ponds to vast oceans, people by the thousands take to the water in boats and other vessels. Whether for an adrenaline rush or peaceful relaxation, the water is a undoubtedly a draw for many. The most major accident on water is a collision between two boats.

Since 2008, there have been just over 1200 accidents, 60 people killed, and a little more than 850 people injured. Other types of accidents on the water include sinking, flooding, falls overboard, and collisions or issues with skiers.

Of >boats involved in accidents, motorboats with open cockpits had the greatest number of fatalities. Smaller, personal watercraft saw the second highest rate of fatalities and injuries. We know that boating accidents occur, but what causes them? The following is a list of the things that cause the majority of boat collisions and other incidents.

1. Operator Inexperience

For some reason, people tend to think that jumping behind the wheel of a boat without experience is acceptable. These same people would not dream of getting behind the wheel of a car without first having been taught how to drive.

Unfortunately, boats are not often regarded as vehicles. Cruising along the water is not thought of as being as hazardous as driving along a highway. Before attempting to control a boat, especially a motorized craft, it is strongly suggested that people take a boater’s education class.

2. Operator Inattention

Much like distracted driving  kills on America’s roads, inattention can be deadly on the water. Sure, there may not be any trees to run into or wild animals to dodge, but there are other boaters, skiers and even skimmers to contend with. Keep your eyes on the water around you.

3. Passenger Behavior

If you are letting other people ride on your boat, make sure that they are minding their manners. No one should be up and walking while the boat is in operation, and no passenger should be distracting you from maintaining a safe course. Make sure that anyone you allow aboard your vessel understands what you expect from them.

4. Weather

No matter what the weather people on the news tell you, always check the weather throughout the day. People cannot accurately predict Mother Nature 100 percent of the time. Storms crop up and high winds kick off. Know what you and your vessel can handle and set sail with caution. If inclement weather is in the forecast, stay home. If you hear of quickly approaching storms while you are on the water, turn around and head back to shore.

5. Equipment Failure

Just like in a car, equipment in a boat can fail. Proper and routine maintenance is essential for any watercraft. Do not wait for something to go drastically wrong with your vessel before you have it looked at. When you have routine maintenance performed, you may be alerted to potential problems and issues before they cost you thousands or, worse, someone’s good health.

6. Reckless Operation

Reckless operation is one of the leading causes of accidents on lakes, rivers and oceans. Here are just a few examples of what activities are considered reckless in the eyes of the law: splashing other watercraft intentionally, allowing a passenger to ride on the bow and speeding or driving in a way that is dangerous for water conditions.

7. Congested Waters

You can’t widen the ocean like you can widen the road. There are more boats on the ocean today than at any time in the past. This can lead to waterways that are congested and difficult to navigate. If you do not have experience driving a boat in congested waters, stick to the shore on the weekends and major holidays until you get more practice.

8. Alcohol Use

Driving a boat while intoxicated is just as dangerous, and just as illegal, as operating a vehicle while under the influence. When it comes to alcohol consumption and boating, they do not mix. If you have had a drink, let someone else who knows how to operate a boat take over. if no one else on your boat will be able to drive it, do not consume alcohol at all.

9. Overloading

Think your vessel can hold 20 of your closest friends? You may be wrong. Check the capacity plate for the maximum weight your vessel can carry. If you are in an accident with more people than your boat can hold, you are risking more injuries or deaths. It is extremely rare that there are enough life jackets for everyone when you decide to invite along all of the people you know.

Boating is an excellent option when it comes to recreation. When done safely, boating can be as relaxing as it is exciting and is the perfect way to spend your free time. When done recklessly, boating can be deadly.

If you have been involved in a boating accident in West Palm Beach, you may be entitled to compensation under Florida law. Call our office today for a free case evaluation and let us provide you with your options. Call now or browse our website for more information about our firm.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.