Memorial Day is over, summer is almost here, and boating season has officially arrived! If you’re like many Colorado residents, you love taking off for the lake on the weekends so that you can kick back and relax on your boat with your friends and loved ones. After all, the boating life is a carefree life… for the most part.
While boating is a lot of fun, there’s always the potential risk of an accident when you aren’t being careful. Just because you’re not behind the wheel of a car, truck, or motorcycle doesn’t mean that you don’t have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road (water) and take certain safety precautions. As a friendly reminder, we’ve compiled a list of tips for preventing boating accidents this year.
Take a Boating Safety Course
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, an incredible number of boating accidents in 2016 were directly related to a lack of training and education. In fact, 89 percent of boat operators who had been in an accident had no known boat safety education, and 48 percent of boating operators involved in accidents had less than 10 hours of experience with their vessel. Conversely, there were no accidents involving boating operators with 500+ hours of experience. This means that education, training, and practice are the key to safety.
Don’t Drink and Boat
Just because you’re not operating a vehicle on land doesn’t mean that you can’t get in trouble with the law. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports that 13 percent of all boating accidents in 2016 were related to Boating Under the Influence (BUI) cases — and, yes, you can be hit with a BUI on your criminal record.
If you’ve got the need for speed, think twice before accelerating too much. Exceeding the boating speed limit can get you in trouble with the law, and it can significantly increase the likelihood of a serious accident on the water.
Follow Life Jacket Laws
Colorado Parks and Wildlife puts out a guide covering statewide boating rules and regulations each year, and this guide goes into the specific details on the number of life jackets you are legally required to carry on board your craft, and which persons must be wearing them. Regardless of state law, though, it’s important to know that the US Coast Guard requires that children under 13 years of age wear approved life jackets whenever the boat is in motion.
Keep Your Emergency Radio On
You may think that your emergency radio is just generating a lot of background noise, but it’s there to keep you and your family safe. Emergency radios can notify you of any boating crashes or accidents that lay ahead, as well as any upcoming obstructions or hidden dangers that you should know about. Making the decision to turn off your radio puts you at risk and can also get you into trouble in civil court. For example, the owners of a Philadelphia tourism boat were required to settle a wrongful death suit for $15 million because two tourists were killed in a crash where the first mate had lowered the volume on his emergency radio, thus causing him to miss the crash warnings.
Properly Maintain Your Vessel
Never take a boat out onto the water with passengers without first taking steps to make sure that your boat is in good working order. This is best accomplished by following maintenance practices and caring for your boat on a regular basis.
We care about your well-being and want to help you keep boating fun by keeping it safe. Give the injury lawyers at Mintz Law Firm a call to learn more about boating law in Colorado or for any mishaps where you require legal assistance.