Over the Memorial Day holiday many people will head out onto the waters around Hampton Roads or the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. It is important that people remain safe during their vacations. Boating is a great recreational activity, especially popular during these hot months, but it does come with some risks that people aren’t always aware of.
As more people go out on the water, the likelihood of an accident goes up and so people have to be more careful now more than ever. Looking at even just a fraction of the data the Coast Guard holds on boating accidents, it is easy to see how dangerous the water can be. There are over 4,000 boating accidents a year in the U.S. involving all kinds of different aquatic vehicles from canoes to motorboats.
One thing these different vessels have in common is that they all have a high potential to cause injury or death when involved in an accident.
In 2012, for instance, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3000 injuries and approximately $38 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. The high injury rate in boating accidents is caused by the deadly nature of water. When someone is thrown from a car by a collision they often suffer serious injury on impact with the ground, but they can live, even if they are knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, if help comes quickly enough. However, if you are sent flying from a boat you are liable to land in the water. Water is actually not a soft surface due to its molecular structure and hitting it at high speeds is similar to hitting concrete. Also if you sustain any injury during the accident, especially a hit to the head that knocks you out, you may be unable to remain afloat and thus quickly drown.
It is important for boaters to understand that all boats carry some risk when being operated. While the majority of boating injuries and deaths involve personal watercrafts, like jet skis, and open motorboats, canoes and kayaks cause around 300 casualties a year. People forget that speed is not the only cause of accidents and that they are not safe in a man powered vessel like a canoe.
While excessive speed related boating accidents caused 31 deaths in 2007, it was only the fifth largest category in terms of number of deaths. Factors including alcohol consumption, passenger behavior, careless operation, and operator inattention all caused more deaths than excessive speed. In fact, alcohol led to a whopping 145 deaths in only 391 accidents in 2007, giving alcohol related accidents a 37 percent mortality rate. To put that in perspective, excessive speeding accidents only had a mortality rate of 6.6 percent. Alcohol’s high mortality rate is probably most related to its effects on a person’s ability to swim. If someone is too drunk to avoid an accident, he may be too drunk to remain afloat long enough for help to arrive. Given this data it is apparent that driving an aquatic vessel of any kind under the influence of alcohol is a great way to get you killed.
It is vital that you stay safe on the water. To avoid disaster, you have to make the right choices like going at a reasonable speed, always paying attention to your surroundings, and resisting the urge to drive a boat intoxicated. However, if you find yourself hurt in a boating accident that was caused by another person contact our Virginia injury lawyers for a free consultation at 757.455.0077. When it really counts, count on Cooper Hurley.