There are many bodies of water in South Carolina, and boating is a popular pastime. Accidents are not uncommon, and some result in serious injuries and even death.
Though they happen for many reasons, boating accidents frequently have similar contributing factors. Fortunately, many of the causes are preventable.
Common causes of boating accidents
Deaths and injuries due to recreational boating accidents often result from issues related to vessel operation, boat equipment failure, passenger loading and the environment. According to the National Safe Boating Council, the most common causes of accidents are:
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience
- Operator inattention
- Excessive speed
- Machinery failure
The use of alcohol is the primary factor in fatal accidents. 83% of fatal victims were not wearing a life vest at the time of drowning. The types of vessels involved in most accidents include motorboats and personal watercraft.
As 75% of fatalities occur on watercraft in which the operator had not taken a boating safety class, one of the prevention strategies is to receive proper operator instruction before getting behind the wheel of a boat. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the law requires individuals under the age of 16 to pass a boater education course before any unsupervised operation of either a boat powered by a motor with 15 horsepower or higher or a personal watercraft. Instructor-led classes are free or available for a minimal fee. Online courses require a one-time fee, due after passing the test.
Along with taking a safety class, there are other easy preventable strategies. These include operating at a safe speed for the conditions, keeping a lookout at all times and practicing defense moves to avoid potential collisions.