Wednesday, August 20, 2008

California: Boating Accident Capital?

The article, “California Leads in Boating Accidents Nationwide”, posted in August 11, 2008, has placed the state in the map of accident-prone areas, particularly for its high incidence of boating accidents. In contrast to this image of the state, the information may actually do more harm than good to California, which is better known for having “some of the most perfect conditions for sailing”, owing to its extensive coastline and good beaches.

However, no less than the state Department of Boating and Waterways has confirmed this information, recording approximately 804 boating accidents last year, making California the second leading state with the most number of boating fatalities.

The agency data also noted a steady increase in the number of victims at 30 percent from 42 percent the previous year.

The department has enough reasons to be alarmed. In a study done recently, it identified some of the common causes linked to boating accidents. They are:

• operator inattention

• inexperience of the operator

• excessive speed

• other external factors such as weather conditions or boat defects

What’s surprising is that most of these accidents (the Department says) may be avoided or preventable. For instance, the study also showed that of the 71 percent fatalities that drowned, at least 87 percent of them were not wearing life jackets.

Basic safety precautions like wearing of life jackets and following proper and safe boating practices can help in reducing the number of boat accidents. The US Coast Guard recommends boating safety guidelines that all boating enthusiasts may follow.

Boating accidents, like all other accidents, can actually be prevented. With adherence to safety guidelines and learning of some basic boating skills, one can avoid accidents or know how to deal or confront when the situation arises.

If people will only heed the call to maintain safety when sailing or boating, then perhaps California may regain the pride of being a safe destination for boating enthusiasts all over the country.