It’s summertime. Many Clearwater and St. Petersburg residents find themselves spending an increasing amount of time on water vessels trying to relax during this time of the year.
Data shows that boaters must be careful when using small boats as they’re often involved in fatal crashes. There are a few factors that make small boats more dangerous than larger ones.
What factors make small boats dangerous?
Data published by the U.S. Army indicate at least 80% of boater fatalities occur in boats measuring under 26 feet in length. The military’s research shows that inexperienced boaters often operate these water vessels and lack a firm understanding of boating safety precautions.
The U.S. Army corroborated the U.S. Coastguard’s 2019 report, which we’ve previously referenced here on our blog and referenced other factors contributing to fatal boating accidents, including boating under the influence and reckless operation of the water vessel, such as speeding.
Non-human factors can also leave boaters vulnerable to getting hurt or dying in an accident. Two of the most alarming concerns are capsizing or waterlogging. This can occur because waves overwhelm the boat, filling it up with water. If there’s no efficient pumping equipment on board, the water can enter the vessel, causing it to sink. Control panels may become waterlogged, leaving the vessel inoperable and thus its occupants vulnerable to getting hurt. Capsizing is most common among smaller boats because they lack a freeboard or a distance between the waterline and the main deck.
Small boats overloaded with passengers, food or equipment may have an increased likelihood of capsizing because the water vessel’s upper edge is much closer to the water. Even in relatively calm waters, a small boat can be prone to capsizing if occupants exceed its maximum load capacity.
What to know if you suffered injuries in a boating accident
You have rights if you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a boating accident, just as would be the case if you had a car crash or any other type of personal injury incident. Talking with an experienced advocate can help you learn more.