ADMIRALTY / MARITIME LAW

Common causes of boating accidents

| Jun 8, 2020 | Maritime Law |

With summer just around the corner, recreational boats are getting out on the water. People are skiing, tubing and cruising around. While many feel that out on the water they are far enough from others to be safe from accidents, this is a misconception.

Anyone on the water, whether in a fishing boat, speed boat, pontoon, yacht, sailboat or other watercrafts should understand the ways in which accidents occur. The United States Coast Guard delves into boating safety and highlights the top causes for accidents on the water:

  • Gas – Running out of gas can be a quick way for accidents to happen. While in some instances you may simply be stranded, if you are in an area with a current it could lead to more serious incidents.
  • Overboard passengers – Anyone who accidentally goes overboard is in danger, especially if that person is alone, not wearing a proper life jacket or without emergency cut-off switches.
  • Grounding – More inexperienced boaters may find themselves grounding, which is when a boat is stuck in shallow waters. This can lead to damage to the vehicle and stranded passengers.
  • Sinking – Broken or worn boats can lead to sinking, which while seems comical is a very real danger to boaters.
  • Boat fires and breakdowns – Improper maintenance can result in breakdowns and boat fires that can leave you stranded and in danger.
  • Night speeding – Some may feel that night is the perfect time to whip around the lake, but insufficient vision can lead to severe injuries and accidents.
  • Improper safety gear – Without lifejackets and safety gear that accounts for every person on board and their ages and weights, a simple accident can result in injuries and even death.
  • Weather – Failure to properly account for weather before going out on the water can get boaters stuck in the middle of dangerous storms or high waves.
  • Lookout failure – Watercrafts can have significant blind spots, especially when you are pulling passengers on skis or tubes. It’s important to have a designated lookout.
  • Alcohol – Recreational boating culture often involves drinking, but that doesn’t mean that alcohol and driving a watercraft should ever mix. Intoxicated boating can lead to severe accidents.

If you are involved in a boating accident, you should always first attend to anyone overboard, anyone in need of medical attention and ensure that all have proper life jackets on. Then, call the U.S. Coast Guard or your local law enforcement to get help.