It’s summertime and lakes, rivers, and streams are full of fishing boats, powerboats, sail boats, and personal watercrafts. I can’t think of anything better to do on a beautiful Arkansas summer day!
Operating a boat is very different from driving a car. Just because you know how to ‘drive’ doesn’t mean you know how to ‘drive’ on water. Boating can be dangerous. Tragically, every summer there are heartbreaking stories of boating accidents. Many are preventable accidents caused by high speeds, recklessness, and impaired driving. Holidays can be the most dangerous times with the largest number of boats competing for space on the water. In fact, according the American Boating Association, the Fourth of July holiday is the busiest and, sadly the deadliest time for boating.
There are many similarities to driving a boat and driving a car. Unfortunately, having a center line is not one of them. Boating can be a ‘free-for-all’ and an ‘every boat for itself’ situation. Many accidents could be prevented by using common sense; most could be prevented by not drinking and driving a boat! Just like driving a car, drinking or using drugs while operating a boat or personal watercraft is illegal in Arkansas. And, when alcohol is included in boating, just like a car, there should be a designated driver.
As with many things, common sense can be a big part of safety when boating. Here are a few reminders. I hope these are helpful for you.
- Prior to departing, make sure your boat is prepared: plenty of fuel/oil, working horn, fire extinguisher, and working lights.
- Be aware of the day’s weather forecast.
- Don’t drink and drive on the water.
- Make sure you have the required number of lifejackets that correctly fit everyone on board.
- Operate at a safe speed, especially during holidays when it’s crowded on the water.
- Be aware of your surroundings; other boats and watercraft.
- Respect buoys and navigational aids.
- Be aware of water levels. Low water can cause rocks or tree stumps to appear. High water can be filled with floating branches and other debris.
- If you stop to swim from your boat, make sure you’re in a safe place.
Be safe and enjoy your time when boating or using other watercraft on beautiful lakes, rivers and streams in Arkansas. Boating should create fun memories. Enjoy your summer!
If you’re involved in a boating accident caused by the carelessness of someone else, Bailey & Oliver may be able to help. Call us for a free consultation at (479) 202-5200.
Bailey & Oliver Law Firm, 3606 W. Southern Hills Blvd., Suite 200, Rogers, AR 72758