Life on the water is leisurely and fun and is a great way to spend time with your family in the hot summer months. Boating is such an activity that takes place on the water and is one that many enjoy both as a solo activity and with family. That being said, it can be easy to become distracted while driving a boat for many reasons. Unfortunately, boating accidents in Michigan are common.
Mainly, you are enjoying your time, and oftentimes there are far fewer people on the water than there are on the roads. However, this does not mean you are safer when operating a boat than you are when driving a car. In fact, operating a boat can sometimes be even more dangerous than driving a car for a variety of reasons.
In this blog, we discuss some of the most common causes of boating accidents in Michigan as well as a handful of important safety precautions to follow when operating a boat.
According to the Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics report, the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speeding, and alcohol use. Let’s take a closer look at each of these causes.
It’s not difficult to understand why this is the number one contributing factor in boating accidents. You’re having fun and enjoying the summer, everyone is laughing, and it’s not as if you’re driving a car on the interstate, so you should be relatively safe if your attention deviates from the water briefly. Wrong.
Many people fall into this way of thinking, so it’s important to understand just how often this contributes to accidents. Operator inattention contributed to 546 accidents, 296 injuries, and 36 deaths in 2019. You should always exercise the same amount of caution when operating a boat as you would with any other vehicle.
A kind of operator inattention, improper lookout ranks as the number two leading cause of boating accidents. Ideally, you should have another individual with you viewing the water from a second angle as you operate the boat. Even if you are paying attention, it can sometimes be hard to see swimmers in the water as you approach them. Just because the water appears to be open does not mean it is.
In much the same way that new drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents, lack of boating experience can be a contributing factor to boating accidents. When you’re new to any activity, you are prone to making mistakes. Always be sure that you have had proper training before operating a boat to avoid accidents.
It’s always fun to go fast, but it’s also always dangerous. It’s just like driving a car: the faster you are traveling, the less time you have to react to things. You may want to think of it as defensive driving when you are on the road. You never know what to expect, or what scenario may present itself when operating a boat, so it’s important to drive at a reasonable speed so that you’re ready for anything.
Though it ranks number five on this list, alcohol use accounted for 23 percent of boating deaths in 2019. Again, when you’re enjoying summer activities with friends or family, chances are you’re going to want to have a drink. However, most people understand the risks associated with drinking and driving, so why would drinking and operating a boat be any different. Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol poses just as much risk to yourself and others as drinking and driving does.
The best way to avoid injury or death when operating a boat is to exercise safety precautions. This includes:
- Starting slowly – Gaining experience driving a boat takes time, so take your time as you learn.
- Being mindful of your surroundings – Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially on weekends and holidays when bodies of water tend to be more populated.
- Wearing a life jacket – Though they are not required under Michigan law, wearing a life jacket could be the difference between life and death in a boating accident.
- Traveling at safe speeds.
Here at Lee Steinberg Law, our Detroit boating accident lawyers treat our clients like family and we are always available to discuss the details of your case and situation. We work aggressively to win your case and get you the compensation you deserve from the insurance company. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to find out how we can help.