California, boasting the third longest coastline in the United States, is home to numerous boat owners and lends itself to recreational boating activities across the state. With nearly 840 miles of coastline, Californians are often found sailing the high seas on weekend getaways and holidays. With any recreational activity, boating can lead to accidents and personal injury as many people operate watercraft with little experience or while distracted by shipmates and other boaters in the water. In 2007 alone, 55 boating fatalities were reported, many of which involved boating under the influence. Luckily, personal injuries as a result of boating and watercraft mishaps are some of the most avoidable injuries and the slightest amount of due care can usually prevent collisions and accidents on the waterways.
One of the most common ways to avoid costly boating injuries is to ensure you are well-equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to safely navigate California’s coastlines. Enrollment in a boating course is one way to learn the basics of boating and instructors will typically teach important boating safety tips. One of the most important, life-saving boating tips involves encouraging all boaters to wear life jackets and the boat is equipped with life preservers and life-saving equipment.
Another all-too-common cause of boating accidents and fatalities involves boating while intoxicated. Responsible watercraft operators should limit themselves while on the water to the same small amount of alcohol as would be appropriate before operating a motor vehicle. Of course, complete abstinence from alcohol while boating is the safest and most prudent plan for operators of watercraft. California’s Boating Under the Influence laws include operation of any device designed to carry or transport people on water, including water skis.
Boating accidents not only occur on the Pacific coastline but on California’s lakes as well. In 2008, for example, lakes around Southern California saw 230 accidents with 78 serious injuries while Northern California’s lakes saw 141 accidents and 82 injuries. California does not require a boating license at this time, even though many cities and counties have tried to implement such requirements. As such, boaters are often inexperienced and careless with their operation of their vessels which has lead to California being the number one in alcohol-related boating accidents and came in second in boating injuries and fatalities with only Florida reporting more incidents of injury.
Lucky, California personal injury laws protect those injured in boating accidents similar to the way motorists are protected from injuries at the hands of negligent drivers. All boat operators have a duty of care to all other boaters and patrons to the waterways. In addition, boat owners are responsible for the safety of all guests upon their boats and should always keep plentiful life preservers and medical equipment on board should an emergency arise.
Personal injuries and fatalities are much more prevalent than commonly perceived. California’s vast coastlines and extensive lakes and waterways not only offer tourists and Californians the gamut of recreational activities, but present a host of potential personal injuries and fatalities at the hands of ineptitude and boating under the influence. Always choose to boat safely and adhere to all recommended boating guidelines.