Despite common misconceptions, most boating accidents have nothing to do with hazardous sea conditions or bad weather. More often than not, they occur on inland waters during the day when visibility and weather are considered good.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,158 boating accidents in 2015. Of those, 626 people died in these accidents and 2,613 sustained injuries. According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, more than half of deaths that occur in boating accidents have been attributed to alcohol.
Drunk Boating Puts Everyone On the Water at Risk
There are many factors involved when operating a boat of any size, particularly motor boats. Boat traffic comes from every direction and at varying speeds. Some of the other boats will have waters skiers or tubes in tow. Additionally, if you’re on a river or at sea, you could also be in the same area as river barges and tug boats, which come with a totally different set of problems. Factor in the wakes, wind, navigation hazards, swimmers in the water and drunk boating, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Other causes of boating accidents, which are usually made worse with alcohol, include:
- Operator inattention
- Improper lookout or lack of lookout
- Inexperienced operators
- Mechanical malfunction
- Failure to follow navigational rules
Passengers on your boat are not just at risk if the operator is drunk. Drunk passengers on your vessel are susceptible to slip and fall accidents, falling overboard and drowning.
If you’re boating, the safest option is to remain sober and make sure everyone on board is wearing a personal flotation device.
Carolyn Latti is a maritime attorney with Latti & Anderson LLP that can help those injured in boating accidents. We have offices in Boston and New Bedford, MA, but also accept injury cases across the nation.