Memorial Day has arrived, which unofficially marks the beginning of summer. A popular warm-weather getaway for Missourians is the Lake of the Ozarks. The destination is also well-known to those who live outside the Show Me State, as readers of USA Today recently voted it the “Best Recreational Lake” in the entire country.
As vacationers head to the Lake of the Ozarks – and other local waterways – it’s important to note how dangerous water recreation can be when boaters behave negligently.
Missouri Boating Accident Deaths
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, there were 152 boating accidents in Missouri in 2015. Seventeen people died in boating accidents in the state last year. That placed Missouri in the top 10 of states for the number of boating deaths in 2015.
That same year, 14 people were killed in boating accidents in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that six of those boating fatalities involved accidents in which the driver was impaired by either drugs or alcohol. The leading cause of Illinois boating injuries in 2015 was “careless/reckless operation.” From 2010 to 2014, an average of 18 Illinois boaters died per year.
The United States Coast Guard reports that over 600 people died in boating accidents across the country in 2015. Alcohol was the leading cause of fatal boating accidents nationally. Other major factors for boating accidents nationwide last year were operator inattention, operator inexperience, and excessive speed.
Safe Boating Tips
National Safe Boating Week was observed across the country in the days leading up to Memorial Day Weekend. During the event, the Missouri Highway Patrol published these following safe boating tips:
- Have a personal floatation device for everyone on board
- Always keep a safe distance between your boat and others
- Maintain a safe speed depending on weather or water conditions
- Make sure navigation lights are operational for safe nighttime excursions
- Each operator is responsible for doing what it takes to avoid accidents
The Missouri Highway Patrol also cautions about the dangers of boating and alcohol. Being drunk and operating a boat is negligent in itself. But when you add in other factors, such as the sun, the wind, and the movement of the waves, operators can become easily fatigued and life-threatening to other boaters. Reaction times are slowed and decision-making is often very poor.
Most boaters are responsible individuals who adhere to safe practices. They avoid the risks of alcohol, speeding and other boating accident factors. But there always will be those who operate recklessly, putting themselves, their passengers, and others enjoying the water in harm’s way. Missouri’s bleak ranking in boating deaths last year is evidence to what can happen when people carelessly pilot their watercrafts.
If you were seriously injured or lost a family member in a boating accident caused by someone else, consult an experienced personal injury attorney to begin the process of holding accountable those responsible for your suffering.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.