The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) runs the North American Safe Boating Campaign each year. In advance of the kick off to summer, the week leading up to Memorial Day Weekend (May 18-24, 2013) is recognized as National Safe Boating Week.
As part of National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard initiated its “Wear It” campaign. The Coast Guard’s Safe Boating Campaign also advocates the following principles:
1. Wearing a life jacket saves lives.
2. Designate a driver. Sober boating saves lives.
3. Boater education saves lives.
4. Safe boats save lives.
The campaign hopes to educate the boating community about the importance of wearing life jackets and the various life jacket options available.
In 2012, an estimated 651 boating deaths were reported nationwide. Moreover, in 2011, the Coast Guard counted nearly 4,600 accidents that led to 758 deaths, 3,081 injuries and approximately $52 million dollars of property damage. Highlighting the importance of wearing a life jacket, 70% of those individuals involved in fatal boating accidents drowned, and 84% were not wearing a life jacket. Not surprisingly, the highest incidents of these accidents occur during the summer months of June and July.
A 21% increase in Texas boating accidents from 2010 to 2011 underscores the need for additional boating safety awareness. In Texas alone, 162 accidents were reported in 2012, with 32 fatalities reported. Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with the Lower Colorado River Authority, the NSBC, the U.S. Coast Guard and other sponsors to promote the “Nobody’s Waterproof” campaign. The campaign is designed to increase water safety awareness and encourage the practice of safe boating. Texas also participates in the “Wear It” campaign.
In addition to the importance of wearing life jackets, it is essential to highlight the risks of driving a boat under the influence of alcohol. Driving a boat under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car while impaired. It is illegal in all states to operate a boat while under the influence. According to the 2012 Recreational Boating Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard, aside from Florida, the State of Texas had the highest number of boating accidents that cited alcohol as a contributing factor.
Texas law requires the following:
• All children under 13 in motorboats fewer than 26 feet must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
• All vessels under 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks) be equipped with a life jacket for each person board.
• All vessels have navigational lights and mirrors.
• All vessels have a working horn or whistle.
• All vessels have a Texas Certificate of Title.
• All vessels have a working and easily accessible fire extinguisher.
In addition, the Nobody’s Waterproof Campaign offers the following tips:
• Drink water to prevent dehydration.
• All boats should have a first-aid kit.
• Get a water-resistant, battery-powered, two-way marine radio.
• Wear sunscreen!
Despite educating yourself on boating safety and following all Texas law, not all boating accidents and fatalities are preventable. If you or your child has been injured or killed in a boating accident, you may be entitled to recovery under Texas law. Call our San Antonio injury lawyers today at 1-800-862-1260.
Boating Safety Resource Center, U.S. Coast Guard