As any boating accident lawyer at our firm can vouch for, many of the numerous collisions and capsizing accidents that take place throughout the world are preventable. Though there are times when unexpected tragedies can unfold, boaters may be surprised to learn that a large percentage of boating accidents are caused by simple mistakes – sometimes occurring prior to sailing. Even the most experienced of boaters can find themselves a victim of a boat safety faux pas.
Because there are some types of boating mistakes that are more common than others, our boating accident attorneys have put together a list of top boating errors so that you can be better prepared the next time you and your loved ones head out into open waters.
- Underestimating the level of expertise it takes to man the helm. Whether you are a novice boater or have spent years sailing in open waters, it’s easy to underestimate what it take to successfully operate a vessel. While some states may have stricter requirements when it comes to obtaining a boating license than others, a safe boater knows that there is always an inherent risk each time they set sail. It takes years of knowledge and practice to man the helm of any kind of boat, from a small tinny to a yacht or even a cruise ship. Operators have to learn how to properly inspect their vessels for any sign of equipment failure, how to navigate and interpret nautical charts, how to safely dock a boat, and how to deal with the unexpected when unforeseeable situations arise while out at sea. The thing about boating is that maritime rules and regulations are constantly changing. The best way to avoid a perilous situation (or to successful bypass one) is to brush up on the current laws and maintain your vessel and all equipment in top-notch shape.
- Failing to pay full attention to your surroundings. The moment sailors take to the water, a sense of peace and calm arise. It’s easy to get lost in the fun and relaxation of boating, but if you don’t pay close attention to your surroundings, boat accidents can arise. Even if waters are calm and the weather is favorable, always ensure you have communication devices on board so you can stay on top of any sudden changes that can affect your sailing. Also, always keep a close eye for other boaters in the vicinity, as well as swimmers and anyone using a personal water craft, like a jet ski. Unlike cars, you can’t just slam on the breaks when you realize that you’re about to crash into another vessel or person. It’s important to stay alert at all times when operating a boat so you can avoid getting hurt and prevent others from being injured as well.
- Not ensuring you are prepared for an emergency. Boat accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, no matter how many years you may have been sailing. In the event that an accident does occur, it’s important to ensure your vessel is well-equipped with life-saving materials that can help you and your passengers survive. Life jackets are on the top of the list, as are knowing how to properly send an S.O.S. signal, stocking your vessel with non-perishable goods and water, and keeping a first aid kit on board.
These are just a few of the mistakes many sailors make, regardless of their level of expertise. By understanding these common human errors and taking the steps to prevent them, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting involved in boating accidents.