The leading causes of boating accidents are operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol/drug use.
Operate a boat the way you would a car on a roadway. A day on the water with friends and family can be the best summer fun. Boating comes with incredible responsibility. Just like operating a motor vehicle, driving a boat while intoxicated is a criminal offense. It’s also one of the most dangerous things you can do. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs makes the boat a deadly weapon. Always be vigilant of other boat operators around you who may be driving under the influence. If your passengers have been drinking, make sure they stay safe by not being overly intoxicated. If there is an accident, being under the influence will slow their reaction time, reduce coordination and impair decision making. This could lead to a greatly increased case of drowning.
Massachusetts safety laws require boats to have life preservers, fire extinguishers, signaling devices, visual distress signals, and navigation lights. Of note, life preservers are required to be worn by youth less than 12 years of age. It’s a good idea, no matter the age of a boating passenger, for everyone to have a life preserver. Make sure that life preservers fit properly for every passenger. Do not overload your boat.
Watch weather and water conditions carefully. Often storms can come up quickly. On the ocean, sudden weather changes can create hazardous conditions.
It’s critical that you always maintain a safe speed. Look out for other boats at all times, especially non-motorized vessels such as kayaks, canoes and small sailboats. Other watercraft such as jet skis can often seem to appear out of nowhere. The faster you are going, the less reaction time you will have to avoid a collision and serious accident.
Each season, re-educate yourself on the elements of boating safety and the rules of the waterway. Boating is very different than driving an automobile and there are substantially different rules which apply. Take a boating safety refresher course. It’s a great idea to also take a water safety, CPR or lifeguarding course to learn skills which can come in handy in case of an accident.
We hope you will take these tips to heart and be safe this summer. As always, our experienced accident lawyers at Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley, P.C. are here for you to provide advice and assistance if you or a friend or loved one is seriously injured in a boating accident. We can be reached at 800-785-5399.