Few experiences can match the freedom and thrill of boating. Unfortunately, because more South Carolina residents and tourists hit the waterways in the warmer months, there is a higher risk of getting in a boating accident.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,064 boating wrecks in 2014. These caused 610 deaths and 2,678 injuries. Although countless factors can contribute to boat crashes, these five causes are particularly common:
- Operator inexperience;
- Passenger misconduct;
- Operator inattention;
- Weather conditions;
- And equipment failure.
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If you were injured by a negligent boat operator in South Carolina, contact the Hammack Law Firm. Paul Hammack is an accident attorney in Greenville who will evaluate your case to determine if you have grounds for a claim. Hammack Law Firm has over 16 years’ experience handling admiralty, maritime, boating and jet-ski injury cases and he will use that experience to get the best result for your case.
For information on boating safety courses in South Carolina and general boating safety, visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/education/boated.html. You can also find great information on jet ski or personal watercraft safety by visiting the National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) website nasbla.org. NASBLA focuses its efforts on increasing safety awareness and safe boating practices across the industry, including the following goals:
- Reduce Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Other Drugs
- Increase Life Jacket Wear/ Implement Mandatory Wear in Some Situations on Certain Size Boats
- Address Distracted Boating/ Improper Lookout
- Address Paddlesports Issues (Including Stand Up Paddleboards)
- Standardized State/Federal Accident Terminology
- Mandate (or Increase) Boater Education for All Powerboat Operators of Any Age
- Advocate for Safety of Towed Water-Sports
- Support Implementation of National Boating Education Standards as Recognized by the USCG and NASBLA
- National Reciprocity Accepting Boater Cards for Out-of-State Boaters
- Implement Measures of Effectiveness for Recreational Boating Safety Program Practices
Until then, read on to learn more about five common causes of boating accidents:
- Operator Inexperience
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Operator inexperience is a leading cause of boat accidents in the United States. Authorities recommend that novice boaters take an education class to learn how to handle their vessels safely. An education course will equip you with the knowledge to navigate, handle changing weather conditions, and resolve unexpected problems.
- Passenger Misconduct
Rowdy passengers can be just as distracting in boats as they are in motor vehicles. Passengers who are drunk or behave irresponsibly can draw the boat operator’s attention long enough to cause an accident.
- Operator Inattention
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Passengers are not the only cause of distracted boating. When operators drink, eat or gawk at distractions in the water or on the shore, their inattention can lead to an accident. The best course of action as a vessel operator is to assume that the other boats on the lake cannot see you. Take action to avoid collisions early and always give way to vessels that have the right of way
- Weather Conditions
High winds and rough water surfaces can be treacherous on a boat. As such, you should always check the weather forecast the day before you hit the water and before you cast off. Even if the forecast is clear, you should monitor changing weather conditions and get off the water if you notice an approaching storm.
- Equipment Failure
Equipment failure causes most breakdowns on the water. For this reason, boaters should complete a pre-departure checklist and fix problems before they cast off.
Your checklist should include the following:
- Confirm your navigation and instrument lights are working;
- Bring a flashlight with spare batteries;
- Make sure day signals, flares and other distress signals are easily accessible;
- Pack basic tools so you can fix common problems;
- Make sure you have a lifejacket for each passenger, and that a whistle is attached to each lifejacket;
- Tell all passengers where they can find the lifejackets and how to use them;
- Bring a first aid kit;
- Make sure you have plenty of fuel;
- Check the engine coolant and oil levels;
- Confirm you have a fire extinguisher onboard;
- Check the weather forecast;
- And carry your vessel’s papers, fishing permit, radio license and other important documents.