CLEVELAND — As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard 9th District is reminding recreational boat operators to remain alert every time they get underway and boat responsibly.
In 2015, operator inattention ranked as the number one primary contributing factor in recreational boating accidents across the United States, causing 551 accidents, 58 deaths and 353 injuries in that year according to the 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics.
The annual statistics show that operator inattention has been the leading cause of boating accidents since 2009.
“There is something that recreational boaters must also take with them besides their life jackets when they leave the pier for a day of boating, and that is their responsibility,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District in Cleveland. “The operator is responsible for the safe operation of the boat, the passengers, and the safety of fellow boaters.”
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents in 2015. Of those top five factors, four are directly related to the the operation of the vessel and the operator’s ability to identify changing conditions and respond to avoid an accident.
“Today’s boaters have access to some of the safest boats and best safety equipment manufactured to keep them safe on the water,” Baron said. “It is the boat operator’s responsibility to ensure that they are operating the boat safely, and should an unfortunate incident arise, know how to properly use the equipment they have on board.”
In the maritime environment, many things can directly affect even the most experienced boater’s alertness. Factors like inclement weather, sun glare, fatigue and nightfall can be exacerbated by drug or alcohol use, or other physical factors.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. The Great Lakes Coast Guard urges boaters to contact the Coast Guard or local law enforcement when in doubt about something they see on the water.