Michigan is home to 11,000 inland lakes and about 1 million registered boaters. That’s a lot of boats, and a lot of people, not to mention their passengers. In this time of COVID, when many are seeking outdoor activities that allow them to socialize and enjoy the summer season while maintaining social distancing, waterways are even more crowded – and, as a result, more dangerous. You can avoid a boating accident if you put your mind to it.
1. Choose Your Waterways Wisely
Seasoned boaters have their favorite waterways and may be reluctant to trade that space for another just because it’s crowded. And newbies may want to go where the most fun is. But overcrowding is a reality and when there are too many boats and not enough space to maneuver, a boating accident is far more likely.
Do your research before you hit the waves this summer and find out which spaces are entertaining too many people and which have room to spare. You may discover a new getaway that you weren’t anticipating and enjoy the change of scenery.
2. Watch for the Newbies
Not only are the new boaters taking up space on the waterways you love best, they are bringing along their newbie ways. They haven’t had a lot of practice behind the wheel of a boat or on a jet ski. They don’t know how to automatically react in an emergency. Their lack of experience makes it far more treacherous for you to be close to them.
Remember, Michigan doesn’t require boat owners to take a boating safety course. That means plenty of folks out there behind the wheel or straddling a machine think watching a video or another operator is enough of a tutorial to do it themselves. Plus, many of the newest boaters are kids – children under age 12 are allowed to operate a 35-horsepower motorboat with supervision. That’s like barreling down the highway beside a tween in your SUV.
3. Drive Defensively
Your other best move when you’re operating a boat or other water vessel, along with looking out for the new folks, is to drive defensively. This will help you in every possible circumstance and do a good job in helping you avoid a boating accident. The only thing you can control on the water is yourself and how you behave and operate your machine, so do your job carefully.
Almost 75 percent of all boating accidents occur because of user error – this includes distracted driving, drunk driving, poor operator choices, and not knowing the rules of the waterways. You can avoid crashing into another vessel or still object, prevent skier accidents, and ward off flooding when you educate yourself and stay alert anytime you’re on the water.
Prevent a Summer Boating Accident
Sure, getting on Michigan waterways in your boat or water vessel is about relaxing, letting loose, and having a good time, but remember that you’re operating a motor vehicle. Your responsibility is massive, and even though the rules of the waters may be more lax than the rules of the road, they still exist. Do your best to follow them to keep yourself, your passengers, and neighboring boaters safe.
If you are involved in a boating accident, contact Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, to discuss your case.