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Avoiding Boating Accidents

Summertime in Austin means people are heading to the lake for some fun in the sun, to swim, play and boat. While these activities are typically fun and harmless there are some precautions that should be taken.

Boating is a fun activity that is great for the entire family. When you consider that water covers more than 7,000 miles in Texas and the number of registered boats in the state exceeds 580,000, it’s easy to see how boating safety and preventing boating accidents could be a top concern. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reports that in 2016 there were 4,463 boating accidents with 2,903 injuries and 701 fatalities. Of that number:

  • 1,051 collided with a recreational vessel (38 deaths and 708 injuries)
  • 565 collided with a fixed object (63 deaths and 432 injuries)
  • 413 were grounded (13 deaths and 246 injuries)
  • 305 capsized (175 deaths and 200 injuries)

While it’s important to know how to properly operate your boat, before you get in the water you should also know how to prevent boating accidents.

Slow down and give speeders a wide berth

Avoiding excessive speeds while boating is not only safe and smart, it’s the law in Texas. If you are boating recklessly or going too fast, you can be cited. If you see someone who is speeding in their boat, give them plenty of room. It is better to move your boat far out of their way than to get caught up in their turbulent wake and potentially capsize. A speeding boat is also difficult to control.

Keep your emergency radio turned on and turned up

Your emergency radio is there for a reason. If you miss a crash warning or alert about impending bad weather, it can mean the difference between life and death. Keep your emergency radio on and keep your attention tuned to it so if there is a problem you will hear it and be able to take the necessary action to keep yourself and your passengers safe.

Don’t boat while impaired

In 2016, alcohol use was ranked number six as a top contributing factor of accidents in Texas waters. There were 282 accidents with 87 deaths and 264 injuries. Drinking while boating is against the law. When you are under the influence, you are more than 30% more likely to be in a boating accident that involves a fatality. It isn’t worth it. Save the booze for dry land or while you are docked, not while your boat is in motion.

Keep your boat properly maintained

A boat that is in good working order and maintained properly is a much safer boat then one that is not. Don’t go out on the water – alone or with passengers – in a boat that hasn’t been maintained well. You should also always do a safety check before you leave the dock to make sure everything is in good working order. If a passenger on your boat is hurt or killed due to poor maintenance of your boat, you, the boat owners, or both of you, could be sued for negligence.

Know what to do in an emergency

Sometimes, no matter what precautions we take, emergencies happen. Knowing what to do in those emergencies is key to avoiding an accident or, if there is an accident, keeping yourself and your passengers safe. The American Boating Association’s “Know Before You Go” campaign emphasizes the importance of good boating safety. This includes maintaining your safety equipment as well as knowing how to use it. It is also recommended that you have a free vessel safety check done by a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner.

Wear a life jacket

In 2016, there were 509 drownings related to boating accidents. In 82 of them, the person was wearing a life jacket, but 404 were not. Life jackets save lives. There are no life jacket laws in the U.S., but the USCG does require children who are 13 years or younger to wear a Coast Guard approved jacket if they are on a moving boat.

Take a boating safety course

A boating safety course is one of the best ways to prevent an accident. It will teach you the safest way to operate a boat and what to do in emergency situations. Even if you have taken a course before or spent a great deal of time on the water, a refresher course can still be beneficial.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm and let us put our experience to work for you. Call 888-353-3619 or use our convenient contact form on our website and talk to one of our caring, competent attorneys to find out how we can help you.

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