Capsizing and Alcohol Impairment: Two Major Reasons behind Boating Accidents
Boating seems to be one recreational activity where risk is minor – with all the waters surrounding the vessel, what harm could befall anyone if he/she falls overboard? On the contrary, like any other motor vehicle, if a boat operator fails to observe safety procedures, then he/she and all other boat passengers will likely find themselves victims of a serious accident.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s record for all reported boating accidents in the U.S. shows 651 fatalities and 3,000 injuries under recreational boating for the year 2012. Though these figures have been the lowest since 2004, these can still be significantly reduced since majority of these accidents are due to acts of carelessness or recklessness by the boat operator and/or passengers.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the top causes of boating accidents are excessive speed, machinery failure, improper lookout, operator’s lack of experience, man overboard and capsizing; in all the accidents due to these causes, as well as those accidents due to other causes, the ones at fault were usually drunk boat operators or drunk boat passengers.
Capsizing is this leading cause of fatality in boating accidents. This usually occurs during nightfall, when both intoxication and the darkness begin to cause the operator make poor judgments, especially while anchoring, maneuvering, or docking.
The major factor behind many accidents, however, is alcohol impairment. Alcohol impairment, according to the the Boating Safety Resource Center, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s official website, is the reason behind 1/3 of all recreational boating accidents.
Drinking liquor or alcohol while on sea can affect a boat operator’s balance, coordination, vision and judgment much faster than when these are consumed on land. This is due to the overall marine environment, where the boat’s operator and passengers experience the sun, wind, sea water mist or spray, engine noise, vibration and motion. Thus, due to alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling overboard have been common cause-of-death reports.
Boating accidents, according to the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., are often due to acts of negligence or carelessness. Due to this, the liable party, including the boat owner and operator face great responsibility is making sure that victims of their negligence are paid the compensation that they legally deserve.