With so much open water in the state of Florida, you might believe that boating is a particularly safe way to have fun and travel. Usually it is, but as we see in the news, boating accidents do happen. All too often, they result in serious injuries or fatalities, so over time we have learned how extremely important it is to understand how these accidents happen and how to avoid them.
The most common cause of boating accidents is inexperience. St. Petersburg always has its fair share of tourists, which we welcome. However, they can find themselves in tough spots when they accidentally venture into shallow water, hit another boat’s wake at the wrong angle, or come into dock at a busy time of day.
If you are new to boating, it is wise to consider boating safety courses, which can teach you the skills that you need to have in order to enjoy a safe day on the open water. These courses will teach you tons about boating safety and how to enjoy yourselves without hurting someone.
I have seen cases involving boats getting grounded and throwing folks overboard. That brings up three topics: how to gauge the depth, how to stay inside the channel, and what to do when someone goes overboard. I have also worked on a wrongful death case where a man was killed while trying to dislodge a boat from a sandbar. I do believe that most of these accidents would be avoided by a safety course.
The news has had a number of stories of boats failing to judge the weather. Another infamous tragedy occurred a few years ago when a number of successful football players tried to raise a stuck anchor by tying the anchor to the stern and attempting to pull the anchor up. The attempt resulted in the death of all but one.
Other important times people are injured by boats happen while trying to dock.
Distraction. Consider two boaters in the same vicinity. The first is fishing off the side of the boat but the person has gone below deck. The other is pulling a water skier and trying to keep an eye out in front but also making sure they will know when their skier falls. Being distracted can result in disastrous results.
Drunk Boating. Unfortunately, summer is also the season for partying. On vacation, without a care in the world, many holiday-goers will enjoy a drink, or two, or a few. This leads to poor decision-making, such as taking the boat out for a spin while inebriated. Drunk boating is just as dangerous as drunk driving. It can cause serious damage, injuries, and even death. Personal injury attorneys see too many devastating cases that could have been prevented had the person decided to sober up first.
Weather. It is a factor on the highways, of course, but the weather is even more influential on the water. When the wind starts whipping, water will start churning, waves will climb higher, and it can be very difficult to navigate the boat back to safety. Many people have been trapped on the water during a storm. But sometimes, these are avoidable. Checking sea conditions and vessel warnings is imperative. The injuries and deaths that can occur as a result can often be avoided with due care.
Speeding and Reckless Operation. While we all like to have fun, driving a boat too fast, especially in congested waters, is a recipe for disaster. Many people have been injured or killed because of reckless boat operation. Some people just don’t understand that boats cannot stop on a dime. And steering out of the path of danger isn’t always an option when traveling at excessive speeds. Living in Saint Petersburg does have advantages, including the close proximity to beaches, lakes, the bay, and the ocean, but we must have respect for those bodies of water and the dangers that come with operating boats.