Hazards of the Open Sea: Top Causes of Boating Accidents

There’s a certain romance to being out in the open sea. In fact, plenty of stories have portrayed the activity of boating with mystery and allure. What can be more profound than being alone out in sea, with only nature surrounding you? Unfortunately, reality paints a darker version of such fantasies.

As records from the U.S. Coast Guard suggests, recreational boating accidents continue to cause a significant number of injuries and fatalities every year. In fact, there were a total of 4,062 boating accidents that occurred in the year 2013. In these accidents, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 560 deaths and 2,620 injuries. Their report also noted that 77 percent of all fatalities were due to the victim drowning.

Why are these accidents prevalent? What hazards can boating enthusiasts expect while enjoying the open sea? The website of Houston personal injury accident lawyer Ali Mokaram cites the following circumstances that commonly lead to such catastrophic outcomes:

Error made by operator: While it may seem like the type of activity one would take on to escape from everyday troubles, recreational boating requires plenty of preparation and training. Risks and hazards are abundant in open water. Without proper training, an inexperienced operator might not be aware of how to respond to emergency situations.

Boating while intoxicated (BWI): The U.S. Coast Guard points to boating while intoxicated (BWI) as one of the common contributing factors to boating accidents. According to their data, about 16 percent of the recorded fatalities in 2013 were caused by an operator impaired by alcohol.

Mechanical malfunction or defect in boating equipment: Boating accidents can also happen due to mechanical failure. If a boat is defective or poorly-maintained, it might not be able to withstand harsh conditions that typically happen in the open sea.

Other common causes of boating accidents include operators riding at excessive speed, capsizing, and lack of proper forward watch. Excessive speeding and capsizing (when the boat turns over in the water) can cause operators and passengers to be thrown overboard. Meanwhile, an operator without proper help from a forward watch might not be able to see certain hazards that could be in their way.

Read More