Is improper Securing to Blame for Highway Boat Flipping Accident?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

RiggingAny of the attorneys at our firm can tell you that maritime safety is critical when it comes to any form of boating or water sport activity. Operators and passengers should always exercise extreme caution when in the open waters, taking care to stay sober and alert and making sure those manning the helm are experienced. But maritime safety also applies to practice outside of actually using the vessel or personal water craft (PWC). Equipment should be kept in good condition, with regular maintenance routines performed to ensure all machinery is operating properly. We can’t tell you how many times a boating accident has resulted from lack of proper maintenance.

Importantly, boat safety isn’t just when the boats in the water, because  part of equipment safety includes the  responsibility to ensure all hooks and securing devices that attach a boat to a moving vehicle are in tip top shape. Though it may not seem obvious, trailing a boat or PWC behind an automobile, truck or motor home can be extremely unsafe. If the vessel comes loose, the results could be devastating.

That’s exactly what happened last Thursday in New South Wales, when a boat that was being towed by a car overturned as it approached a bridge.

The vessel, although small in size, flipped onto the median after the driver pulled out too late from a merging lane before reaching the bridge. Yes, the driver could have paid closer attention, but there’s no reason why a properly secured small vessel should flip over unless it was poorly secured to begin with.

According to police, the boat trailer also collided with another car, disrupting traffic for a significant period of time. Though no one appeared to have been injured, there was extensive damage to the vessel. Damage that may have been avoided had the driver properly secured the vessel.

While any boater should be fully aware of the steps to take when hooking up a boat to a trailer or tow, you’d be surprised to learn how many of them actually do know what to do or how many are aware of the procedure, but choose to ignore it. Same goes for drinking and boating, speeding and other careless actions that can play a role in a tragic accident.  This is one thing that frequently see, across the board, in accidents involving serious injuries:  someone was merely being careless, and someone pays dearly for it.

Here in South Florida, many residents store their vessels at one of our many marinas, while others chose to commute with their boats and PWCs from home. But for most people, commuting is the most popular practice. So, in the spirit of safety, our boating accident lawyers are here to offer a few helpful tips on how to make sure your vessel doesn’t come loose, flip over or cause a crash while being towed.

Tips for securing a boat or PWC:

1)      Make sure your boat or PWC is tied with two individual straps. Don’t forget to add lines for both the bow and stern. You should never use one strap for tying multiple boats.

2)      Tie down both the vessel’s bow and stern to a secure point on the transportation vehicle.

3)      Consider investing in foam blocks. This is a very economical way to transport your boat, kayak or other maritime vessel safely. Attach the blocks to the boat, and then strap the boat to the vehicle. Lastly, secure the bow and stern to the car’s bumpers. Feel free to use an additional strap for added safety.

4)      Consider investing in a roof-mounted rack. These are even safer than foam racks, and best of all, can carry all kinds of other outdoor gear. They come in all shapes and sizes and can attach safety to nearly any kind of vehicle.

5)      Opt for a separate trailer. This is a good option for any kind of boat or PWC, but make sure, as with all other methods, that the equipment is tied down properly.

We understand that even the safest of operators can experience accidents. Ropes may break, other drivers may commit traffic mistakes, and a slew of other unexpected tragedies can occur. This is why we also recommend driving at or below the speed limit to minimize your chance of getting into an accident. As the popular saying goes, better safe than sorry!