Long Island saw a string of boating accidents last weekend that has safety officials concerned. According to Newsday, from July 12 to July 13:
- An 18-year-old woman was killed in a jet ski accident when her watercraft collided with a 35-foot boat in a Middle Bay waterway on Sunday.
- Another woman was killed the same day in a boat collision when she was ejected from her vessel after being struck by a 50-foot boat a quarter-mile off Cupsogue Beach.
- Two boaters were injured on Saturday evening after their vessel collided with another boat in Moriches Inlet. The couple was pulled from the water by first responders after jumping from the vessel before the crash.
- The driver of a boat south of the Bay Shore Marina in Great South Bay was arrested for intoxicated driving. He was operating a 19-foot vessel with six other passengers on board when a pump malfunction caused the boat to capsize. One passenger was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Boating in Long Island waters is an exciting summer pastime for hundreds of New Yorkers, but it’s also an enormous responsibility. Injuries and fatalities can skyrocket when boaters and passengers forget to use proper safety measures. All residents who are considering a boat outing this summer should know the most common causes of accidents and how they can prevent injuries on the water.
What Causes Boating Injuries On Long Island
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistic Report showed a total of 4,291 boating accidents occurred across the country in 2017. At least 658 people died in these accidents while 2,629 sustained injuries.
There are several reasons why boating accidents can happen. Some of the most common causes include:
- Collisions: Boat collisions are the number one cause of fatal and serious boating-related injuries. The U.S. Coast Guard reported a total of 2,027 collision accidents in 2017. Surprisingly, some of these collisions were the same vessels experiencing their second or even third accidents in one year.
Boat collisions resulted in more than 1,233 injuries and 130 deaths. There are six types of possible collisions:
- Collisions with recreational vessels (1145 accidents);
- Collisions with fixed objects (470 accidents);
- Collisions with submerged objects (141 accidents)
- Collisions with floating objects (55 accidents);
- Collisions with commercial vessels (19 accidents); and
- Collisions with governmental vessels (6 accidents);
Boat accidents involving collisions with other vessels can be particularly dangerous when traveling at high speeds. Other collisions involving fixed objects can be life-threatening when the objects struck are made from dense materials such as cement or rock.
- Slip and Falls: Water that spills over the sides of a boat or that drips off passengers who have been swimming can make boat surfaces extremely slippery. The most terrifying accidents involve people who fall overboard. More than 306 overboard falls were reported in 2017; of these accidents, 179 people were killed and 126 were injured. Slip and fall accidents can also lead to serious stress injuries such as broken bones, sprains, and strains from hitting the floor or other hard surfaces of the boat.
- Reckless Driving: Boat operators have an obligation to drive safely on the water, just as they do when driving a car on the road. Reckless boating behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, using improper lookout methods, and violating navigation rules accounted for nearly 38 percent of all boating accidents in 2017. When boaters drive recklessly, they are more likely to cause collisions, confusion with other boats, and to hit swimmers or smaller vessels in the water.
- Drunk Driving Accidents: Drunk driving on the water poses the same deadly risks for boat operators as it does for motor vehicle drivers. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports alcohol can affect a driver’s concentration, balance, judgment, depth perception, auditory and visual senses, and muscle control. Drunk boating has been directly linked to at least 275 accidents but it is believed to have contrived to far more.
- Boat Malfunctions: Machinery failures are the fourth leading cause of boat accidents, resulting in 305 incidents in 2017. Boat malfunctions can involve any maintenance issue, including shifting failures, steering problems, pump issues that cause the boat to take on water, or overheated parts that can lead to fires.
- Driver Inexperience: Over 430 accidents were caused by boat operators who lacked the experience to drive their vessels safely. New York State Boating Laws require boat operators to pass boating safety courses before operating any vessel on New York water. Operators who skip this step or operate vehicles they are unfamiliar with could put others in serious danger.
Inclement weather is another variable that can lead to boating accidents. Strong waves, choppy waters, and low visibility from heavy rain or fog can make boating conditions extremely dangerous. Boat operators are advised to check the weather often and well ahead of their trip to avoid becoming stuck in unfavorable conditions.
Drowning Is the Number One Cause of Boating Fatalities
Drowning is the number one cause of death across all types of boating accidents. Regardless of whether or not passengers and drivers can swim, anyone can drown in an accident under the right conditions. Drowning accidents led to 449 of the 658 boating fatalities reported in 2017- almost 70 percent.
New Yorkers can significantly reduce their risk of drowning by making sure all passengers and drivers on the boat are wearing life jackets. Unfortunately, many boaters forget this step. The U.S. Coast Guard reported of the 449 people who died from drowning, at least 370 of these individuals were not wearing life jackets.
How To Boat Safely
Boating on Long Island does not have to be dangerous. Following these boating safety steps highlighted by Long Island Weekly can significantly decrease your risk of boating accidents this season:
- Wear a life jacket every time you step foot on the boat.
- Only drive vessels you are trained to operate. Take additional boating safety courses if needed.
- Know how to navigate and operate the emergency features on your boat before you enter the water.
- Prepare a float plan to give to a loved one that includes information about your boat, individuals on board, and where/when you will be on the water in case an accident.
- Always operate your boat sober, never under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Invest in additional personal flotation devices to use in an emergency.
- Pack emergency supplies such as first aid kids, food, and water in case you are stranded or in need of immediate medical attention.
- Keep your speeds low to maintain visibility of the water around you.
- Reduce your distractions on board to stay alert.
- Never boat in inclement weather. Water is unpredictable, and even veteran boaters can become injured when bad weather hits.
- Stay alert to swimmers and smaller vessels in the water and keep motorboats far enough away not to cause injury.
Call an NYC and Long Island Boat Accident Attorney
Most boating accidents are 100 percent preventable. Boating accidents caused by negligent operators can lead to life-threatening injuries and thousands of dollars in medical treatments. Victims of boating accidents may also suffer significant financial losses in boat damages caused by someone who was not keeping the safety of others in mind.
With over 20 years of experience representing personal injury victims, Siler & Ingber, LLP will provide you with a free case review to explore all your options when it comes to seeking justice for your unnecessary injuries. Contact us today at 1-877-LAW-4343, or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless
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