As an inexperienced boater, Florida waters can seem a dangerous place. There are sharks in the ocean, stingrays along the beach and alligators if you head onto freshwater. A freak lightning strike could hit you; a rip current could drag you out while swimming or your motor could break, leaving you floating out to sea, wilting under the heat of the sun. However, the greatest danger is something far more mundane. What you really need to watch out for is other people in boats.
Why do boating accidents happen?
Human error occupied the top five places in the U.S. Coastguard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics report. These are the top five reasons for accidents, along with the percentage of total accidents caused by them:
- Operator inattention:13%
- Improper lookout: 12%
- Operator inexperience: 11%
- Excessive speed: 9%
- Alcohol Use: 7%
Alcohol use was fifth in the list of crash causes. Yet, it was the number one cause of fatal crashes, responsible for three times more fatal accidents than any other category.
How can you reduce the chance of a boat accident?
There are several things you can do to stay safe on a boat:
- Pay attention: Most boat crews organize a watch system so that someone is always looking out for trouble.
- Build up your experience: Whether you take a training course, or build up hours on other people’s boats, the more experience you get before setting out on your own, the better.
- Slow down: While it can be fun to go fast, it gives you less time to avoid hazards.
- Don’t drink if in charge: Boating under the influence could lead to charges and increase the risk of an accident.
Boating accidents can lead to severe injury. By taking the above precautions, you can reduce the chance of a negligent boater ruining your day.