Here in Southern California, we’re fortunate to enjoy warm temperatures and beautiful weather nearly year-round. For people who own boats or personal watercraft such as jet skis, this means more opportunities to get out on the water and have fun with friends and family. Unfortunately, the more people on the water, the higher the likelihood of accidents. According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways, in 2012 there were 195 boating accidents in Southern California that resulted in 77 injuries and 16 fatalities. With popular destinations such as Lake Havasu, Castaic Lake and part of the Colorado River, it’s no wonder that these accidents represented 41% of all accidents statewide, 31% of injuries, and 30% of fatalities.
According to Department of Boating and Waterways Acting Director Sylvia Ortega Hunter, operator inattention is the number one cause of boating accidents. Designating another person on board the boat to act as a lookout for other boats, obstacles, or people, can give the operator more reaction time to avoid an accident.
Here are several more tips for boating and watercraft safety that can greatly decrease your chances of being involved in an accident:
Life jackets. In California, all boats and water craft are required to carry properly-fitting Coast-guard approved life jackets for each person on board as well as for all personal watercraft riders and anyone being towed behind a boat. Any child under 13 must wear one while on the water.
Don’t drink and boat. When alcohol is involved, everyone on the boat is at risk, from drivers with impaired reflexes to passengers who might fall overboard or swim near propellers or other dangerous areas. A drunk boating accident on the Colorado River left a teenage passenger with severe cuts. Our attorneys obtained a $750,000 settlement without the need to set foot in the courtroom.
Resist the need for speed. Keep your boat or watercraft to manageable speeds on lakes and rivers. Because they don’t have brakes, boats take longer to slow down and stop and are not as easy to maneuver as a car on land.
Driving rules. It’s easy to remember basic “rules of the road” when you driving a boat, as they are similar to driving a car. For instance, always move to the right when approaching another vessel. And when two boats meet in a crossing situation, the one on the right has the right-of-way.
Required equipment: Depending on the size and type of craft you have, there are other requirements according to California law, including things like navigation lights, fire extinguishers and signal devices. For a complete list of required equipment, see the Division of Boating and Waterways website. And here’s a fun and informational way to check out your boating and personal watercraft safety smarts.
From helping the families of drowning victims, to standing up for the rights of people severely hurt in boating accidents, our law firm is able to handle cases that involve accidents on the Colorado River, Lake Mohave, Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Pacific Ocean, Ventura Harbor, Lake Powell and Parker Dam. If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident, please give us a call at 800-676-5295 for a free consultation.