There’s nothing better to do during a Missouri summer than getting the boat in the water and spending the weekends on the lake. Balmy Missouri weather drives people in droves to the cool, clear lakes and ponds sprinkled across the state for full days of fishing, swimming, and water sports. However, while boating can be a great way for families to cool off and spend time together, it’s always important to be aware of safety precautions to avoid injury or harm.
Life Jackets Save Lives
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), Missouri state law requires all boats to carry enough life jackets on board for each passenger in case of an emergency. Each life jacket must be U.S. Coast Guard approved. Children under the age of seven must wear a life jacket at all times while on a boat unless they are in an enclosed area within the vessel. The importance of life jackets on any boating vehicle cannot be understated. Simply put: an overwhelming number of boating deaths occur from drowning. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015:
- Over 75% of boating deaths were from drowning
- Of those deaths, 85% of victims were not wearing a life jacket
- In 2015, 22 children under the age of 13 died in a boating accident
- 12 of those children died from drowning
- 10 out of those 12 were not wearing a life jacket
Be Aware, Be Attentive
Operating a boat is in many ways the same as operating an automobile. You’re driving a high powered machine around others driving equally powerful machines. Furthermore, if the driver is distracted, neglectful of their surroundings, or under the influence, accidents and collisions can occur. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015:
- “Operator inattention” was the leading cause of boating accidents in 2015, with 551 accidents resulting in 58 deaths
- “Collision with recreational vessel” was the leading accident type, with 990 total accidents resulting in 36 deaths
- “Collision with fixed object” was the second leading accident type, with 470 total accidents resulting in 58 deaths
- 260 boating accidents were attributed to excessive “alcohol use” resulting in 91 deaths
Proper boating knowledge and education is essential to safe boating practices and accident prevention. To operate a motorized boating vehicle, Missouri boaters born after January 1, 1984 are required to take and pass the Official Missouri Boating Safety Course. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015:
- “Operator Inexperience” was the second leading cause of boating accidents, with 458 total accidents, resulting in 37 deaths
- Almost 75% of deaths occurred on boats operated by someone who did not receive proper boating safety instruction
- Missouri was one of the top 10 states with the most recorded boating accidents and deaths
Boating should be fun and safe, which is why proper boating safety practices and education are immeasurably important.
Morrissey Law Firm, P.C., is located in Springfield, Missouri, and focuses in personal injury and wrongful death trial work. If you need a personal injury or wrongful death attorney, please contact us to schedule a consultation.