B.E.S.A.F.E While Boating!

Kentucky Boating Safety

While the summer is beginning to come to a close, there are still plenty of weekends left to pack in those summer activities! When I think of summer, I think of freshly cut grass, hot dogs charred black on my rusty, old Weber grill, ripe watermelon for dessert, and of course, water.  Whether it’s the sprinkler system, my plastic inflatable pool in the backyard, the emerald Florida shores, or the cool Cumberland Lake, when it gets hot, Americans in almost every state head for the water. And with water, comes boats.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 75 million Americans (that’s 32% of all American adults!) go boating during the summer months. However, whether you’re floating on a pontoon, racing in a speeder, or paddling in a canoe, it’s important to remember that boating involves the operation of a vehicle, in some cases a motor vehicle and that with the operation of such vehicles comes inherent dangers. That’s why it is so important to follow the American Boating Association Guidelines to B.E. S.A.F.E.[1] and know your Boat, Equipment, Safety devices, Alcohol limits, First Aid, and Environment every time you go out on the water.

Boating Accident Statistics

In 2021, The American Boating Association reported that there were over 6,400 boating accidents, involving over 4,270 injuries and over 681 fatalities. The Coast Guard estimated that these accidents amounted to a total of approximately $62.5 million dollars of property damage. These accidents are far more statistically probable in the summer months, due to the influx of over-heated enthusiasts and vacationers looking to cool off in the water.

In July of 2023, two brothers aged 18 and 14 were killed after their jet ski collided with a boat on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland.

10 Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Kentucky

Boating accidents often result from a combination of factors. To minimize the risk of accidents and ensure safe boating experiences, boat operators should prioritize safety, undergo proper training, stay informed about weather conditions, and follow all rules and regulations. Here are the primary causes:

  1. Operator Inattention: Distracted or inattentive boat operators who are not fully focused on navigation and safety can lead to accidents.
  2. Operator Inexperience: Novice boaters who lack proper training and experience may struggle to navigate safely in different conditions.
  3. Lack of Safety Equipment: Not having or improperly using safety equipment, such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, or navigation lights, can result in accidents or worsen their outcomes.
  4. Excessive Speed: Operating a boat at excessive speeds, especially in congested or restricted areas, can result in collisions and accidents.
  5. Machinery Failure: Mechanical failures, equipment malfunctions, or boat defects can cause accidents, including engine stalls or steering issues.
  6. Navigation Rules Violation: Mistakes in navigation, such as running aground or failing to follow navigational markers, can lead to collisions or grounding.
  7. Alcohol / Drug Use: Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment, reaction time, and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents.
  8. Weather Conditions: Adverse weather, such as high winds, storms, and rough waters, can pose significant dangers to boaters.
  9. Overloading: Overloading a boat with too many passengers or exceeding weight limits can affect stability and lead to capsizing.
  10. Force of wave/wake: Reckless actions, such as performing dangerous maneuvers or wake jumping near other boats, can lead to accidents.

How to Prevent Boating Accidents

So, what’s the best way to prevent these accidents and stay safe on the wake? Remembering these safety tips from the American Boating Association Safety Program is a great place to start:

  1. Perform a precursory inspection of your boat, boating equipment, and safety devices before you go out on the water;
  2. Know your alcohol limits and remember to abide by applicable laws regarding Driving Under the Influence;
  3. Go over first aid and emergency procedures with your fellow boaters, and finally
  4. Check the weather and other environmental factors before you head out for a day of relaxation and fun!

Head to the American Boating Association’s website for more information and safety tips.

Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Boating Accident Lawsuit

As of September 2021, the statute of limitations for filing a boat accident lawsuit in Kentucky is one year from the incident.

The Becker Law Office and its team want everyone to enjoy and celebrate this summer and BE SAFE while out on the water!