Boaters are enthusiastically heading to the waterways in these summer months. Connecticut, with its beautiful lakes and coastline, is a very popular boating destination. Unfortunately, with the increased number of boats in the water, boating accidents and fatalities occur all too frequently. To reduce the number of recreational boating fatalities, it’s important to understand the causes of these accidents:
Lack of Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs)
Boaters are required by law to wear PFDs while operating any vessel less than 26 feet long. Too many people ignore this rule and choose not to wear them. In fact, 71% of people involved in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket at the time. It’s crucial for all boaters, new and experienced, to have a proper understanding of boating safety and to follow basic precautions to help minimize the number of boating fatalities in the future.
Alcohol and Drug Use
When boaters drink alcohol or use drugs, they tend to overestimate their ability to operate the vessel safel. This oftentimes leads to poor decision-making. 57% of all boating fatalities in Connecticut involved alcohol or drug use.
The effect of alcohol and drugs intensifies our reaction to natural elements like the sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion which causes fatigue. This fatigue in turn greatly reduces coordination, judgment, and reaction time.
The U.S. Coast Guard enforces a federal law that prohibits Boating Under the Influence (BUI). All boaters should take the dangers of BUI seriously and understand that alcohol and drugs affect the body differently on the water.
In the last two years, the number of people buying personal boats in Connecticut has doubled. Connecticut law requires all boats be registered with the DMV, and that all boaters have either a Safe Boating Certificate, or a valid vessel operator license issued by the United States Coast Guard. Unfortunately, since there are so many more boats out on the water, it can be difficult to check whether everyone is safety certified, especially considering that you don’t need the certification to buy the boat. The presence of these new, inexperienced boaters on the water puts everyone at risk and the results can be deadly.
Motor and equipment failure account for a large number of boating fatalities. Equipment malfunction can be caused by engine or propeller failure, fuel leaks, loose connections, and live wires.
It is recommended that annual preventative maintenance be conducted, especially on aging equipment. Technical problems can be avoided by ensuring the fuel supply lines, hydraulic hose fittings, electrical systems, and other parts of your vessel are in proper working condition.
We all need to boat responsibly. Every boat operator should do their part to keep the waters safe. The U.S. Coast Guard asks all recreational boating operators to take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers, helping to reduce fatalities and injuries.
Essential steps for safe recreational boating include:
- The wearing of a life jacket at all times, and requiring passengers to do the same,
- never operate a boat while under the influence (BUI),
- successful completion of a boating safety course, and
- performing annual maintenance on your boat.
What to Do if a Boating Accident Happens
If you or someone you love was involved in a boating incident, seek an attorney who has experience dealing with complex maritime and admiralty laws. AHC Injury Law understands how difficult it can be to establish fault in a boating incident. With over two decades of experience handling personal injury claims, including boating accident claims, we will investigate your case and fight to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Visit our website or call us at (203) 331-8888 for a free consultation.