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Boating Accidents – Staying Safe on Your Summer Vacation

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Red buoy on water in a stormy day.Summer can be a pleasant time of the year. With kids out of school for summer break, and great weather all around, some people might want nothing more than to enjoy their summer by relaxing by the water. Whether it’s the lake or the ocean, it can be very easy to unwind and relax. One of the ways people may chose to relax while on the water is through boating. While boating can be great way to spend time on the water, there are also several hazards that may present themselves to both boaters and persons spending time in the water. According to studies performed by the US Coast Guard, there were approximately 4,000 boating accidents in 2014 alone. While people shouldn’t be afraid of going out on the water in a boat, it is always important to be aware of the most common boating accidents in order to protect yourself, your loved ones, and those around you.

While there are many ways to be injured in a boating accident, the U.S. Coast Guard has listed five of the most common types of boating accidents in 2014. The most common types of boating accidents include:

  • Collision with a recreational vehicle
  • Flooding/swamping
  • Collision with a fixed object
  • Grounding
  • Skier mishap

While this list is by no means conclusive of the types of boating accidents that people can be involved in, the top five accidents were responsible for over half of all reported boating accidents in the U.S.

Common Causes

In addition to the different types of boating accidents, there are also various conditions that can create a higher level of risk when operating a boat, regardless of where the boater might be or what might be around the boater. While there are a range of activities and conditions that can make boating more dangerous for everyone on the water, the following are just a few examples of common causes of boating accidents.

Alcohol

While it might be tempting to let loose and have a few drinks when on a boat, it is always important to remember that a boat is still a vehicle, even if it might not have wheels and an engine. As the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, operating a boat while intoxicated can create a dangerous environment for not only those people on the boat, but also anyone in the surrounding area. Not only does operating a boat while intoxicated endanger surrounding persons, but it also opens up the operator to criminal liability.

Mechanical Failure

Just as with cars, boats need regular maintenance in order to ensure that the vehicle will operate as it is supposed to. While it might be tempting to avoid regular maintenance to save a few bucks, it is guaranteed to cost more in the long run if an accident occurs because of the operator’s failure to maintain the vessel.

This risk, however, is not just limited to boat owners, and can also extend to persons renting a vessel as well. While they may not incur legal liability, mechanical failure can still create hazardous conditions for persons renting and operating a boat. As such, it is always important to ensure that any vehicle you rent has been properly maintained and inspected, and is fit for use.

Weather

When most people think of summer, they think of clear blue skies and a bright shining sun. Reality, however, is never as ideal as we want it to be. As most people know, the weather can change quickly, especially in the summer time, going from sunny to stormy in a matter of minutes. While changing weather conditions might seem like an inconvenience to most people on dry land, boat operators should be aware of what it is they should be doing under inclement weather conditions. Not only could inclement weather cause the boat to flip over, it could also cause passengers to fall off the boat.

Operator Inexperience

While you might think that boating rules mirror automotive rules, the truth is that boating rules are much more relaxed than automotive laws. Interestingly enough, there is no minimum age requirement in Florida in order to operate a boat. This means that people under the age of eighteen could be on the water operating a boating vessel. While there is nothing on the books in Florida that prohibits people younger than 21 from operating a book, anyone born after January 1, 1988, who operates a boat with more than 10 horsepower, is required to pass an approved boating course

While it can be tempting to cut loose and focus on relaxing during your summer outings, it is always important to pay attention and be aware of anything that might happen. Even though a boating accident can put a damper on a summer vacation, a little bit of prevention can go a long way.

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