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Boating accidents and how to prevent them

Boating is a popular activity in Rhode Island, but accidents on the water can lead to multiple injuries, and even death, every year. Knowing the main causes of collisions and how they can be prevented will cut down on incidences and result in more fun times.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the primary contributing factor to accidents on the water is related to the operation of the vessel, specifically operator inattention. Other common causes include improper lookout, operator inexperience and excessive speed. Alcohol use is also a big contributor to accidents, and it is the leading cause of fatalities. Other contributing factors include boat equipment failure, gear or passenger loading and the environment.

While New England has experienced an increase in boating deaths over the last couple of years, none of them occurred in Rhode Island. According to the Newport Patch, boaters can take a number of steps to prevent accidents and, ultimately, injury or death. Proper preparation is essential before the season even starts. Fresh batteries should be installed in locating beacons, strobe lights and VHF radios; test life jackets for proper function and the expiration dates of fire extinguishers and flares should be checked.

Some prevention techniques that should be practiced throughout the season include:

  • Appropriate experience - because inexperience is a common cause of collision, boat operators should only handle the watercraft they are knowledgeable and skilled in
  • Abstention from drugs and alcohol - paddle boarders and boat operators should stay away from alcohol and other substances that negatively affect their abilities
  • Safety first - a free safety test or boat safety class increases the chances of security on the open water

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