Top 5 Causes of Boat Accidents

Sunny days were made for enjoying time on the water which makes summer the best season for recreational boaters. Whether you have a sailboat, catamaran, powerboat, or high-powered yacht, there’s nothing quite like a beautiful day on the open sea and with over 430,000 vessels registered for recreational purposes in New York, it’s safe to say plenty of New Yorkers take advantage of our beautiful waterways. 

While there are extensive guidelines for boater safety to follow, even the most cautious operators can find themselves in a boating accident. From lacking proper safety gear to speeding, here are the top 5 causes of boat accidents. 

Not paying attention

Operating a boat is an important job and it can be easy for your attention to be distracted by something else on the water or in the boat. While you may feel comfortable taking your hands off the wheel or looking elsewhere, operating a boat is a major responsibility and even a few seconds of distraction could result in an unfortunate accident. 

It’s important that you remain alert when operating a boat to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Reckless operation of a boat (including operator ignorance and inattention) can be a violation of local laws and lead to law enforcement terminating the operation of any vessel.  

Failure to have the proper safety gear

It’s easy to forget the proper safety equipment on your boat, but this simple step is key to ensuring you’re prepared in an emergency (not to mention, some of the safety gear is required by law). According to the New York State Boater’s Guide, every vessel operated in New York State must have one USCG approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. All life jackets must be readily accessible (reachable quickly in an emergency) and should be in good working condition. Other important safety gear to have include working flares, lights, and/or horns.

Operating at excessive speeds

Operating your boat fast can be thrilling, but what can start out as a fun joy ride can turn dangerous quickly if you are going too fast. Speeding can dramatically decrease your reaction time which allows room for risk factors like crashes with other vessels and obstacles found in the water. 


Ignoring the weather

Before going out on the water it’s a good idea to check the forecast for the entire time you plan to be on the water. If you notice a storm is rolling in soon, it’s likely best to pick another day or come in long before the storm hits. Since weather can sometimes be unpredictable, you’ll want to periodically check weather updates while on the water. It may be a bummer to turn around and head home, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution and there are sure to be plenty of beautiful sunny days to enjoy this summer.

Driving under the influence

It’s no secret that driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can be a fatal mistake and operating a boat under the influence is no different. Enjoying a few beers on the water might sound like a blast, but make sure you aren’t the operator of the boat when you’re drinking. It’s important to note before you reach for a beer or mixed drink that in the state of New York any vessel operator with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated.


Boating accident representation

Since boating accidents do tend to happen even to the safest captains on the water, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing help from a personal injury attorney. If you or someone you know was injured in a boating accident on Long Island, the North Shore Injury Lawyer can help. Give Mark a call at 631-495-9435 to discuss your boating accident and take advantage of a free consultation where you can have all of your questions answered and learn more about your legal options.