Massachusetts has an abundance of coastline and waterways for every type of boating excursion. Boating can be great fun during the warmer months. From water skiing and wake boarding to fishing and summer commuting, boating is a favorite activity for thousands who live in, or visit, MA every year. But boating can become seriously dangerous—even deadly—due to inexperience, speeding, and alcohol use.
Boating Safety Tips
Follow the tips below to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a boating accident.
- Never combine alcohol and boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol consumption increases the risk of a boating fatality by 34 percent. And alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all boating accidents. Further, it is a federal offense to operate a boat under the influence. If convicted, you could face jail time and fines of up to $5,000.
- Avoid speeding and reckless driving. You can be cited for speeding and reckless driving, but these dangerous behaviors also dramatically increase your risk of serious injury. A Boston boating accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
- Leave the volume of your emergency radio at an easily audible level. A fatal duck boat accident in Philadelphia was a tragic reminder of the importance of emergency radios; the boat’s operator missed crash warnings because he had turned down the radio’s volume. As a result, two tourists were killed and the Philadelphia duck boat company settled with the victim’s families for $15 million.
- There should be an experienced boat operator onboard at all times. In 77 percent of fatal boat accidents, the operator had inadequate boating safety instruction. In fact, the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are inexperience, inattention, speeding, improper lookout, and mechanical failures.
- Ensure that your boat is well maintained and in proper working order. If you own the boat and someone is injured or killed because it is in poor condition, you could be found liable.
- Follow life jacket laws. In MA, that means anyone under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket at all times, and that there are ample life jackets for each person onboard. The boat’s owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that life jacket laws are followed. In 2016, drowning was the main cause of death in 80 percent of fatal boating accidents, and of those victims, 83 percent were not wearing their life jacket.
- Avoid overloading your boat. Too much weight on a boat can lead to capsizing or swamping (taking on water). Check your boat’s weight capacity and ensure that you never exceed it.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure that you have proper safety equipment onboard, that it’s in proper working order, and that you know how to use it. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
- Check the weather before heading out. Getting caught in bad weather on open water can be deadly.