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Safe Boating is Responsible Boating: Tips to Avoid Boat Accidents

Boat on lake at sunset

Boating accidents in South Carolina can occur in an instant, posing a grave risk to you or your loved ones while navigating Lake Murray or any other expansive body of water in the state. Recognizing the urgency of this issue, boating safety advocates are stressing the importance of responsible boating.

Yvonne Pentz, the communications director of the National Safe Boating Council, a non-profit organization committed to ensuring a safe boating experience for all enthusiasts, emphasizes the importance of safety on the water.

“The best boating experience is safe boating,” Pentz said. “Have fun on the water, make memories with your family and friends – all while boating responsibly.”

Having experienced the loss of our own sister due to a negligent boater on Lake Murray, we have a deeply personal commitment to representing individuals who have been harmed by negligence while on the water. That's why we're so passionate about fighting for boating accident victims and their families.

How common are boating accidents?

The U.S. Coast Guard reports an average of over 5,000 boating accidents nationwide each year. Shockingly, in 2020 alone, these incidents led to approximately 3,191 injuries and claimed the lives of 767 individuals.

South Carolina, too, experiences its fair share of boating accidents. Recent data from The State Newspaper indicates that in 2022, the state encountered 170 boating accidents, a notable increase from previous years. Tragically, these incidents resulted in the loss of 22 lives.

7 common causes of boating accidents

According to the U.S. Coast Guard's annual boating accident statistics, there are seven common causes of boating accidents. These factors, based on data from 2020, include:

1. Boaters not paying attention

This accounted for 664 boating accidents, resulting in 55 fatalities. Failing to remain vigilant and attentive while operating a boat can lead to hazardous situations.

2. Boating inexperience

Inexperienced boaters were involved in 612 accidents, which tragically led to 56 deaths. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with boating practices can increase the likelihood of accidents.

3. Improper lookout

Failing to maintain a proper watch and lookout for potential hazards can have severe consequences. In 2020, 578 accidents and 28 fatalities were attributed to an improper lookout.

4. Excessive speeding

Speeding was a contributing factor in 418 accidents, resulting in 32 deaths. Operating a boat at excessive speeds can make it difficult to react to unexpected circumstances and increase the risk of collisions.

5. Machine failure

Mechanical issues contributed to 373 accidents and caused 19 fatalities. Proper maintenance and regular inspections are essential to prevent accidents stemming from equipment failures.

6. Navigation violations

Violations of navigation rules led to 316 accidents and 26 deaths. Failure to follow established navigation regulations can result in collisions and other accidents on the water.

7. Alcohol use

Boating under the influence of alcohol was responsible for 296 accidents and a staggering 115 deaths. Consuming alcohol impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction time, significantly increasing the risk of accidents and fatalities.

What can boaters do to prevent boating accidents?

The National Safe Boating Council offers several suggestions for preventing boating accidents:

  • Wear a lifejacket at all times on a boat – 86 percent of drowning deaths on boats involve people not wearing a life jacket.
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Check safety equipment and make sure it’s in good working order before going out on the water.
  • Make a plan and make sure someone on shore knows your plan and trip itinerary.
  • Use an engine cut-off device in case the operator of the boat unexpectedly falls overboard.
  • Watch the weather and carefully check the weather forecast before going out on the water.
  • Always travel at a safe speed on the water, especially in congested areas or during hazardous weather.
  • Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol.
  • Stay in touch with communication devices in case of an emergency on the boat.

Contact a South Carolina boating accident attorney

Boating accidents can quickly escalate into complex legal matters, and it is not uncommon for victims to face challenges in obtaining the compensation they rightfully deserve. Even when liability is clear, fair treatment may not always follow. In such cases, it becomes crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of the South Carolina legal system.

At Johnson + Johnson, Attorneys At Law, our boating accident lawyers are dedicated to advocating for the rights of boating injury victims and their families. By working closely with you, we can assess your situation, inform you about your legal options, and develop a personalized legal strategy tailored to your specific needs.

We prioritize the needs of boating injury victims, placing their well-being at the forefront of our practice. If you choose us as your legal representation, you can expect a compassionate and dedicated team by your side. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us and schedule a free consultation. We're located in Lexington, SC, and look forward to talking to you about your potential legal case.

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