Distracted Boating - It's is a Thing...and it's Deadly

Drivers don’t have a monopoly on distractions. Boaters have as many distractions, possibly more. They don’t have white lines to follow; however, they do have vessels approaching from all directions at all speeds, shifting sea and weather conditions, crowded harbors, passengers who move around – some while drinking adult beverages.

High on the list of distractions are electronic devices. And just as automobile drivers who text and drive can travel up to a football field in distance while reading a text, boat captains, too, travel long distances in water while doing the same thing.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety, recently released its 2018 10 Most Wanted List of Recreational Boating Safety Improvements.

The list includes important mandates including increase life-jacket wear, reduce boating under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, etc.

No. 5 on the list: Address distracted boating and improper lookout.

Operator inattention and improper lookout, combined, accounted for between 22 and 24 percent of the total reported boating accidents annually according to the NASBLA. They also account for between 9 and 14 percent of boating-related fatalities annually.

“Cellphones are the primary communication device for many boaters,” said Ted Sensenbrenner, assistant director of boating safety for the BoatUS Foundation, a nonprofit group that represents recreational boaters. “So while [electronic devices are] important to all of us, we have to know how to use them wisely. If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”

Not all boating accidents are the fault of another person. Boat wrecks can be caused by a variety of factors, some due to operator error and some due to defects in equipment.

Regardless of the cause, boating accident victims can suffer from serious head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other catastrophic injuries due to falls. It is important that you seek medical attention immediately and talk to a Wisconsin personal injury attorney about your rights.

You can vastly minimize your risk of being injured in a boating accident or boat crash by practicing common sense and following safety rules.

  • Avoid using a cell phone while helming a boat.
  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Avoid drinking if you are driving a boat
  • Take a moment to get to know the boat you are in, taking note of potential hazards

Search the area all around your craft. This is a 360-degree examination of everything on the water around your boat. Distances away will close or open depending on your speed or the speed of the observed boat or object. The faster you are operating, the farther out you will need to search.

Concentrate on what you are seeing with your eyes and on your electronics. Is it a boat? What type? What is it doing? What is its relative speed? Is it a stationary object? Drifting or anchored? These are questions you must consider while you look at the various observed boats or objects.

Analyze what you are watching. Is it closing in on your position or going away from you? Remember, if the object you are observing is at a constant bearing with decreasing range (you are getting closer to it and its relative position to you is not changing), it is on a collision course.

Negotiate What are you going to do? Slow down, turn away from the boat or object, and head in a different direction? Remember the Navigation Rules. Know the proper action to take while meeting head-on, crossing or overtaking another boat. Make your adjustments obvious.

When an Accident Does Happen

If you or a loved one gets hurt while on a boat and it is not your fault, you may be able to pursue medical compensation and damages.

To be eligible, you must be able to prove that your injury resulted from someone's negligence in order to be able to recover damages from that person. Just because you were injured doesn’t mean that anyone was negligent. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care. This means that you and your lawyer must be able to prove that someone failed to act with reasonable care, and that, as a result of that negligence, you got hurt.

The legal team at Casey Law Offices can help prove negligence in a boating accident. With more than 25 year of experience in personal injury law, we can help you get the maximum award for your case. Simply call us at 414-272-3776.

Please have a safe and fun boating season