Boaters Urged to Follow Safety Procedures to Avoid Injuries

As rising temperatures lure more people to the water, boaters are reminded to use caution and stay safe.

In under one month, three fatal boating accidents occurred in the waters surrounding New Jersey:

*A Lacey Township man was reported missing and presumed dead after being knocked from a speedboat, apparently by a wave created by another boat. His friend suffered a fractured arm in the incident. (1)

*A boating accident near the Statue of Liberty left one New Jersey man dead and another facing charges of vehicular homicide, endangering the welfare of a child and operating a vehicle under the influence. (2)

*An 18-year-old Bayville man was charged with reckless operation of a vessel and failure to report a fatal accident following a June 10 incident in which the canoe he and a friend were riding in took on water and overturned in the Barnegat Bay. (3)

Crashes are not the only cause of death or injury while boating. In fact, the Coast Guard Auxiliary reported that boat propellers were the leading cause of death or injury. People fall from boats for various reasons including collisions with another boat or a submerged object, unpredictable waves and changes in speed of the boat. Inexperience, negligence, incompetence and the influence of drugs and alcohol can all contribute to boating accidents. (4)

As the July 4 weekend kicked off summer activities, New Jersey officials reminded boaters and users of personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis to stay safe. Personal watercraft are subject to the same regulations as boats, according to Raymond Martinez, chairman of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Like boaters, operators of personal watercraft must be 16 or older and have passed a course in boating safety. (5)

As of July 1, 17 boating accidents have been reported to the New Jersey State Police, including two fatalities. Last year, 116 boating accidents, including eight fatalities, were reported in the State. (5)

On a positive note, the Coast Guard last year reported a trend across the nation of decreasing numbers of boating deaths. Several factors were attributed to this lower rate, including a decrease in the number of registered boaters in the country. However, the Coast Guard also noted that inspections, boating safety classes and an increase in the number of adults wearing life jackets have also played a role in reducing the number of deaths by boating. (6)

(1) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/06/rescue_effort_for_missing_lace.html
(2) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/07/fatal_boat_crash_statue_libert.html
(3) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/07/bayville_man_is_charged_wih_re.html
(4) http://blog.nj.com/boating/2011/07/prop_danger.html
(5) http://www.nj.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/nj-officials-urge-boaters-to-stay-sober/bd25e10133a340eca298bd2b036e7001

(6) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/06/boating_deaths_in_nj_rose_last.html