Editorial: Fair winds and following seas
here’s nothing better than a day on the river, enjoying the sights and sounds, soaking up the sunshine and maybe catching a fish or two for dinner. But there’s nothing worse than when something goes wrong.
May 18-24 is being observed as National Safe Boating Week, and, with boaters eager to get their vessels into the water by Memorial Day weekend, it’s the perfect time to reflect on boating safety.
In 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,588 recreational boating accidents involving 758 deaths, 3,081 injuries and approximately $52 million in property damage. Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16 percent of deaths.
The main point to take away from these statistics is that nearly all of these accidents were easily preventable. Before stepping behind the wheel of a car, every driver is expected to be well versed in the rules of the road, to avoid distractions and be sober. For some reason, many of those same responsible drivers, when they get behind the wheel of a motorboat, think those same basic rules don’t apply. The statistics say otherwise.
Living on the water in the summertime is a wonderful thing. Take a few simple precautions before heading out in your boat to ensure that you’re around to experience it for a long, long time.