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Boating Accidents Can Be Prevented

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014    

May 17-May 23, 2014 was National Safe Boating Week. It was observed on Arkansas lakes last week. Each year, as part of National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary shares boating safety tips to help boaters stay safe on the water during the summer.

In 2013, Arkansas ranked 10th, tied with Louisiana, among the states with the most boating fatalities.

On Saturday, May 24, 2014, just before midnight, a Hot Springs man was killed when the boat he was driving collided with two other boats on Lake Hamilton before sinking. A witness to the accident said he observed the man’s boat strike two boats and said that after the accident, all that could be seen of the boat was its nose.

In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4,515 accidents that involved 651 deaths and 3,000 injuries. Almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 85 percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket. According to Monte Anderson, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Fort Smith, wearing a life jacket is the most important safety precaution a person can take to help stay safe while boating.

The Top 10 contributing factors to boating accidents in 2012 were operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, excessive speed, navigation rules violations, alcohol use, force of wave/wake, weather, and hazardous waters.

“Alcohol is the number one cause of boating accidents, without a doubt,”according to Anderson. It is recommended to always have a designated driver when consuming alcohol on our lakes, just like when driving on our roadways. Arkansas prohibits a person from operating any motorboat or other vessel, or manipulating water skis or other devices, while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or otherwise while intoxicated. There are substantial penalties for boating while intoxicated, including a fine of up to $1,000, jail for up to one year, or both for a first conviction.

The message is clear to always wear a life jacket, avoid alcohol use, get a vessel check, and take a boating education course.

Boating Education classes cover Arkansas boating law, trailering, personal floatation devices or life jackets, rules of the road (lake), maintenance and boating accidents. The basic course is six hours.

For more information about safe boating visit www.SafeBoatingCampaign.com.