Going out on the water for a day of boating is the ultimate social event – but do you ever stop and think about the dangers involved? Especially in the summertime, friends gather to enjoy a day at sea either relaxing and soaking up the sun, or taking a more active approach and enjoying jet skis, tubing, or wake boarding.
This exhilarating event is carefree for the most part, but some people fail to remember that the driver must be in full control – sober and responsible, not lounging with a beer in hand. Passengers also have basic responsibilities like making sure they don’t drink too much and distract the driver or engage in irresponsible acts like jumping off the boat in motion.
Seattle personal injury lawyer, Gregory Colburn, gives a few examples of negligent behaviors that cause these boat wrecks. Colburn describes these reckless incidents as, but not confined to: the boat crashes into another boat, your boat hits a wave, you hit a submerged object or you get injured when you hit another boat’s wake.
What are the Main Factors in Boat Accidents?
Boating accidents occur for a variety of reasons – some are mechanical and some are self-inflicted like drinking and driving. Here are the top 10 main factors in boating accidents that occurred in 2016 along with the number of accidents:
- Boat Driver’s lack of attention – 597 accidents
- Boat Driver’s lack of experience – 480 accidents
- Improper lookout – 475 accidents
- Speeding – 360 accidents
- Machine malfunction – 323 accidents
- Use of alcohol – 282 accidents
- Weather – 214 accidents
- Violation of Navigation rules (risky driving) – 213 accidents
- Dangerous waters – 205 accidents
- Force of wave – 160 accidents
As these numbers show, most of these accidents are self-induced and preventable if the captain and boat passengers are aware and attentive to the safety of everyone. Additionally, a few of these factors are natural conditions like size and force of the wake and weather endured during the ride. Conditions like rain, wind and storms can greatly change the force and size of the wakes.
How does Alcohol Factor Into Boating Wrecks?
Alcohol accounts for almost half of all boating accidents and the law is not lenient on a Boating Under the Influence, or BUI. Similar to a DUI, boating under the influence is a federal offense that can result in heavy fines (around $1,000) as well as criminal penalties and even jail time. Driving a boat and driving a car are very different, but the same amount of focused attention must be payed to ensure safety for your passengers and everyone else on the water. If you choose to be irresponsible and drink while operating a boat, you will be strictly penalized due to your faulty judgement.
Common types of Boating Accidents
Although driving a boat is different than a car, that does not mean less attention must be paid to the water. Different factors such as powerful waves, buoy, large and small boats and rocks can be extremely dangerous. Here is a list of the 5 most common boating accidents:
- Accident with recreational water vehicle – 1051 accidents
- Accidents with fixed object (buoy, rock, etc.) – 565 accidents
- Flooding – 470 accidents
- Grounding – 413 accidents
- Capsizing – 305 accidents
These accidents in 2016 combined resulted in 379 deaths and 1,742 injuries. Just because you aren’t on land in a vehicle doesn’t mean you are invincible – it is crucial to take safety precautions when spending a day out on the water.
Taking your boat out for a spin on a hot day can make a good day great, as long as you take proper safety precautions and devote your full attention to the water ahead.