We’re entering the hot – really hot – months in Texas, and some time on the cooler waters sounds like a refreshing break. Unfortunately, a day of fun on the lake carries certain dangers of which it’s always wise to be conscious.
In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available) that 633 people were killed and 2,511 injured in recreational boating accidents. Where the victim’s cause of death was known. 77% of them drowned. Among the drownings, eight out of every 10 were in riding in boats less than 21 feet long. Half of all deaths occurred in open motorboats, with 13.5% of them in kayaks and 7% in canoes. In Texas that year, there were 204 recreational boating accidents, with 35 of them involving a fatality. In all, 38 people died in the incidents.
What was the cause of these fatal accidents nationwide? The Coast Guard reported that in 2018, alcohol usage was the leading knowing contributor, with intoxication being the biggest factor in nearly one in five deaths.
The lack of instruction for the boat operator also was a big contributing factor. In 74% of the fatalities, the operator hadn’t had formal training on how to safely operate a boat. In 18% of the incidents, the operator had received a certificate after taking a nationally approved class in boating safety.
Other top contributors to accidents included the operator not paying attention, operator inexperience, machinery failure and speeding.
Before you say “yes” to that invitation to go on a friend’s boat, ask some questions. Has the person who will operate the boat taken a class? Will that person abstain from alcohol use? Is the boat equipped with life jackets? If the answers to all of those questions are no, politely decline the offer. It’s much better to be safe than to be the victim of a boating accident.