Our great state has a richness of water resources. South Carolina is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline, many gorgeous lakes, and around eight thousand miles of river. The gift of water grants us and a great many visitors the opportunity to enjoy our natural resources every year, from Myrtle Beach to Lake Marion and more. Few people would argue than a happy day out on the water, whether lake, river, or ocean, isn’t one of the greatest experiences life has to offer.
Unfortunately, though, the chance of an accident on the water is a reality. When people are careless or negligent while on the water, injuries and even death can result. A beautiful day can turn into a nightmare in the blink of an eye. Here are some statistics on boating accidents for you to consider, and some advice on what you can do to prevent them.
South Carolina Boating Accident Statistics, 2011 to 2016
The United States Coast Guard releases an annual Recreational Boating Statistics report that is highly revealing about the state of boating safety. According to USCG numbers, there were 688 recreational boating accidents in South Carolina in the six-year period from 2011 to 2016. Of those 688 accidents, 104 proved to be fatal to at least one person. That’s a lot of families left to suffer the loss of a loved one.
There were 136 accidents that happened just last year, in 2016. That’s 13 more than the year before; 2015 saw 123 accidents. 2014 saw 124 and 2013 only had 104 boating accidents. That’s a frightening upward trend.
But maybe boaters here in the Palmetto State are learning to take safety a little more seriously, despite the bump in reported accidents. After 2013’s severe peak of 26 deaths on the water in just one year, the next two years saw only 13 and 15 boating-related deaths, respectively. While the exact reason for this shift may not be visible in the raw statistics, hopefully it’s a positive sign for the future.
Recreational Boating Safety Advice
You can do your part to keep the waterways safe and fun for everyone by practicing good boater safety. Here’s a few helpful tips that you may find to be useful when planning your boating trip:
- Wear a life jacket. Get one for yourself, and make sure that all passengers aboard have USCG-approved PFDs (personal flotation devices), too. SC law states that all boats need to have a PFD available for everyone aboard. Check with the Department of Natural Resources Boating Regulations for more information.
- Don’t mix alcohol and boats. Alcohol is the number one cause of boat accident fatalities. It dulls your judgement, slows your reaction time, and can double your risk of being in an accident on the water. Being out in the wind and sun all day only worsens the negative effects of alcohol, too. Save it for the shore and never operate a boat while intoxicated.
- Take a boating safety class. Inexperienced operators are a leading cause of accidents, too. Educating yourself early can save a lot of heartache later. The USCG and other agencies regularly offer courses, both in person and online, to help you learn how to be safe on the water, operate a vessel properly, know the rules of the waterway, and more.
Just by following these three simple tips, you can greatly decrease your chance of an accident on the water, and join the thousands of people who enjoy being out on the water safely here in our great state.
When Accidents Happen
Sometimes accidents do still happen, no matter how well-prepared you are. Negligence, carelessness, unqualified or intoxicated boat operators can all cause tragedy. When a boating accident happens and it’s not your fault, you would be wise to seek legal help immediately, especially if someone was hurt or it resulted in property damage. You may be owed compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain, the cost of lost property, and more, and it’s your legal right to pursue that compensation.
The Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger knows the law when it comes to boating accidents, and we are here to serve you when you need help. If you have questions after being hurt in a boating accident, please call us in our Columbia office at 803-790-2800 to arrange a free consultation.