Coast Guard cautions boaters about the risk of collisions

BOSTON — Following a series of collisions involving both motorboats and personal watercraft, the Coast Guard is warning all vessel operators to be aware of the ever-present risk of collision on the Northeast’s heavily traveled waters.

The First Coast Guard District, which encompasses the New England states, central and eastern New York, and northeastern New Jersey, has recently logged an increase in fatal collisions that have claimed three lives and injured several others on both coastal and inland waters.

“Visibility in these accidents has run the gamut from prime time daylight to midnight darkness,” said Al Johnson, the First Coast Guard District’s recreational boating safety specialist, “but, with due regard to visibility, vessel operators must know what’s going on around them at all times – absolute situational awareness is essential. If it isn’t, the consequences can be deadly. Operators must also be prepared to take evasive action to avoid a collision.”

Johnson stresses that it is the responsibility of all vessel operators to be prudent mariners and that knowledge of the Rules of Navigation is absolutely essential for safe boating and paddling.

“It’s interesting that four of the first eight navigational rules deal specifically with visibility, safe speed, the risk of collision and action to avoid collision,” Johnson said.

“I compare it to driving a motor vehicle,” said Johnson. “You have to be aware of driving rules and regulations, traffic speed, patterns and terminology to drive your vehicle safely. Similar rules apply to operating a vessel on the water.”

Johnson strongly recommends that all boaters take a recreational boating safety course either through their respective state or with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadrons, both of which can be accessed through http://uscgaux.org or http://usps.org. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons also offer basic and advanced navigation courses. Additional course or vessel safety check information is available through the BOAT/U.S. Foundation at 1-800-336-BOAT.

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