As summer progresses the injury and death toll from boating accidents continues to rise. There have now been 11 boating deaths this year with many more injured. In 2015 Maryland had a record 21 deaths, up from the typical 13 per year. What are the factors that increase the number of fatalities and injuries while on our waterways? It seems that the number of boats on the water may have increased dramatically due to the lower price of gasoline over the past several years. Gas prices dropped significantly between 2014 and 2015 by around $1.44 per gallon, giving rise to more boats and more time on the waterways. But the real factor in boating accidents is human error. Even though boat renters are required to read the boating safety course put out by the Natural Resources Police that notes that no boater shall operate while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and that all children under 13 shall wear a life vest, boaters continue to ignore some of the more basic safety rules.
Most boating accidents are avoidable if the operator maintains vigilance, knows the rules and uses common sense. Inexperienced boaters fail to know the rules and fail to know the waters in which they are boating. Recently a 9 year old and an 11 year old fell off a rented pontoon boat and was pulled into the propeller. Apparently the driver was not able to stop the boat quickly. The 9 year old died despite quick help from an EMT and nurses passing by on another boat. There were 17 people on the pontoon boat at the time of the accident. In other incidents a powerboat ran over a woman on a jet ski, a woman was struck by a boat propeller and a man had an artery severed in a boat crash. Many incidents such as these could have been avoided with basic knowledge of boating rules and an awareness of their surroundings and their passengers. The negligence of the boat "captain" or boat operator can be investigated by an experienced attorney and proper compensation awarded to the injured victims.