National Boat Safety Week can help reduce Pennsylvania boat accidents

With summer just around the corner and Pennsylvania boaters chomping at the bit to get their boats in the water, it seems appropriate that May 18 through May 24 has been designated as “National Safe Boating Week.” After all, it is often best to remind boaters of the importance of boating safety before they start launching their vessels.

Here in Pennsylvania, many boaters initially learn various boat safety tips when they obtain their boating safety certificate – which is required for anyone operating a jet ski or anyone born on or after January 1, 1982, who is operating a boat with a motor of 25 horsepower or greater. However, a yearly refresher on boating safety can only help in reducing Pennsylvania boating accidents and their resulting injuries.

Drinking and boating accidents in Pennsylvania

Given that boating is a recreational activity, it is not uncommon to see boaters drinking alcoholic beverages while they enjoy their time on the water. But, it is important for these boaters to know that there may be tragic consequences if they drink and then elect to operate a boat. For instance, according to a recently released report from the U.S. Coast Guard, there were five deaths in Pennsylvania alone during 2012 that could be attributed to alcohol-involved boating accidents – which unfortunately was an increase from 2011.

Sadly, these fatal accidents occurred despite the fact that Pennsylvania has a law prohibiting boaters from operating or controlling a watercraft if they have consumed alcohol to the point in which their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or above.

However, beyond being against the law, there are several other reasons to avoid drinking while boating according to the U.S. Coast Guard, including:

  • Alcohol can impact cognitive abilities, which can deteriorate judgment and make it more difficult to assess situations and process information
  • Alcohol can impair physical abilities such as reducing reaction time, hindering coordination and hurting balance
  • Alcohol can impact vision, including reducing depth perception, impair focus and decrease peripheral vision.

Unfortunately, these conditions not only put the life of the intoxicated boater at risk, but also his or her passengers and other boaters on the water. Consequently, if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk boater, it is important to contact a knowledgeable boating accident attorney who can advise you as to your rights and options given your particular circumstances.