With the weather warming up, it won’t be too long until many people regularly jump in their boats for days of recreation on the water. But just as with cars and trucks, those who act negligently while operating a watercraft can be responsible for turning fun into tragedy.
This is especially true in Missouri. According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, the Show Me State had the eighth most fatal boating accidents of all 50 states in 2013, which is the most recent reporting year. Illinois came in 23rdfor boating fatalities. May, June and July, not surprisingly, were the top three months for boating accidents
Leading Causes of U.S. Boating Accidents
According to the Coast Guard’s report, the leading causes of boating accidents in the United States were:
• Operator inattention
• Improper lookout
• Operator inexperience
• Machinery failure
Overloading and improper loading of a water vessel – for which the operator generally is responsible – were other causes for accidents.
Alcohol Number one Factor in Boating Deaths
But the top contributor in fatal boating accidents is alcohol. In 2013, alcohol use was determined the leading factor in 16 percent of all boating deaths.
Open motorboats accounted for almost half (46 percent) all 2013 fatal boating accidents. And the boats weren’t necessarily large; eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were in vessels smaller than 21 feet.
Over half of the U.S. boating deaths in 2013 were in ponds, reservoirs, and lakes, like Missouri’s popular Lake of the Ozarks. And most occurred when there was good visibility and light to no wind, once again pointing to operator error as a likely contributing cause.
As the data indicate, operators who are impaired or simply not paying attention can cause accidents in Missouri’s waterways year-round, but especially in the upcoming summer months.
If you were critically injured or had a loved one killed in a boating accident caused by someone else, consult an attorney who handles boating accident cases to hold those responsible accountable for their negligence.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.