The Dangers of Distracted Boating

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) warns using an electronic device while boating can be dangerous. The NTSB began voicing concerns about distracted boating following two maritime accidents in late 2009 involving Coast Guard officers who were using cell phones. The incidents prompted the NTSB to expand its warnings about operator distraction to include not only automobiles, planes and trains, but also maritime vessels.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard report concerning recreational boating accidents in 2010, the top five causes of these accidents included:

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol

In 2010 alone, operator inattention accounted for 759 recreational boating accidents involving 49 deaths and 457 injuries. These statistics stress the importance of avoiding distractions when operating a boat.

The Coast Guard describes operator inattention as: “Failure on the part of the operator to pay attention to the vessel, its occupants, or the environment in which the vessel is operating.” Perhaps the most obvious example is using an electronic device, such as a cell phone, laptop or tablet. However, anything that takes your attention away from the safety of your vessel and its passengers constitutes a distraction.

Distracted boating accidents can be deadly, as was a 2010 collision near Philadelphia that resulted in two deaths and the sinking of a sightseeing boat. To help minimize distracted boating accidents, the Coast Guard does not allow its boat operators to use cell phones. It also limits cell phone use by other crewmembers. Hopefully, an increase in public awareness about the dangers of distracted boating will result in fewer of these accidents.

If a distracted boater caused your injuries or killed someone you love, discuss your case with an experienced Boston maritime attorney today.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers