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You’ll Never Guess How Much Boating Accidents Increased in Kentucky

Our Kentucky boating accident lawyers report on increasing boating accidents in Kentucky.

From Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake to the Ohio River, Kentucky has plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy a day of boating.

But operating a boat comes with the responsibility to safeguard others’ lives. When boaters are involved in accidents, the odds of people slipping under the water and drowning are high, especially if safety precautions are ignored.

A recent Fourth of July boating accident on the Ohio River in Louisville claimed five lives when a rented pontoon boat carrying nine people capsized after colliding with a construction barge. The collision threw nine people into the swiftly moving river. Four were able to climb onto the barge to safety. The Coast Guard is investigating the accident.

Boating Accidents Increase By Nearly 50 Percent in Kentucky

The U.S. Coast Guard’s most recent report of Recreational Boating Statistics shows that Kentucky had 46 boating accidents in 2014, claiming nine lives and injuring 38 people. The accidents involved property damages costing $621,450, according to the report.

The number of accidents increased by 48 percent from the previous year when the state recorded 31 boating accidents that killed five people.

The 610 boating fatalities nationwide last year represented an 8.9 percent increase from 560 the previous year. The total number of injuries rose 2.2 percent to 2,678, the report shows.

Accident and Death Causes

Alcohol is the number one contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the main cause in 21 percent of fatalities, according to coastguardnews.com.

Kentucky reported 11 alcohol-related boating accidents in 2014 that killed five people and injured 16. That was up dramatically from the previous year when only five alcohol-related accidents were reported with no deaths.

Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use are all ranked in the top five as the main factors for boating accidents.

The Coast Guard report is clear on causes of accidents and deaths:

  • 78 percent of deadly boating accidents involving drowning when the cause of death is known
  • 84 percent of victims weren’t wearing a life jacket when they died
  • 77 percent of fatalities took place on boats where the driver had no boating safety instructions, when investigators knew the amount of instruction
  • Most reported accidents took place on open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats
  • Fatalities were highest on open motorboats, canoes and kayaks.

Averting Accidents

The U.S. Coast Guard emphasizes boating safety and education with initiatives such as Wear It! and Operation Dry Water designed to encourage people to wear life jackets and avoid drinking when taking the boat out on the water.

To prevent boating accidents, the Coast Guard reminds boaters to enjoy the water responsibly:

  • Make sure everyone wears a life jacket
  • Take a boater safety course
  • Get a free safety check for your vessel
  • Stay away from alcohol and other substances that could impair your ability to handle the boat safely.

In Kentucky, a person must be at least 12 years old to drive a boat or operate a personal watercraft of more than 10 horsepower. Anyone from age 12 to 17 operating a boat must hold a Kentucky Safe Boating Certificate Card or show a certificate of completing an NASBLA approved boater education course.

Go to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources to pre-register online for the course.

Before taking your boat out on the water this summer, the state encourages you to go through this safety equipment checklist:

  • Keep boat numbers properly displayed
  • Store registration receipt on board for inspection
  • Carry wearable life jackets for every person on the boat
  • Keep a throwable flotation device handy
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available
  • Be prepared with a horn or whistle
  • Ensure lights (red, green, 360-degree white light) on board.

Avoid speeding, reckless driving, pulling skiers close to other boaters and docks and, most of all, stay away from alcohol. Make sure your day on the lake or river is a safe one in which everyone makes it home alive.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by the negligence of another person, talk to a Kentucky boating accident lawyer about your legal rights to seek restitution.