Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials reported two separate boating accidents this past weekend.
Tragically, an 18-year-old teenager was killed in a wakeboarding accident at Lake Lillinonah in Newtown, and in a separate accident three people were injured when a jet ski collided with two people tubing behind a boat.
In 2010, the Coast Guard reported 4,604 accidents that involved 672 deaths, 3,153 injuries and almost $40 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Almost three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned and eighty-eight percent of them were not reported as wearing a life jacket. Most notably, only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
The Coast Guard reported inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%).
Connecticut has recently mandated certain requirements to help make our citizens safer while using our lakes, rivers and the Long Island Sound. In Connecticut, you must be 16 years old and properly licensed to operate a watercraft. Additionally, it is also illegal to operate a watercraft while intoxicated or impaired.
In Connecticut, a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC) will allow an individual to operate any recreational vessel registered in Connecticut except a personal watercraft ("Jet Ski" type vessel) on Connecticut's waters. A Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) will allow an individual to operate any recreational vessel including a personal watercraft ("Jet Ski" type vessel).
Sadly, the majority of boating accidents are entirely preventable. Many collisions and accidents involving personal watercraft and other vessels are caused by negligence, intoxication, equipment failure, inadequate training, or weather and water conditions. The inexperience or the errors of the person operating the vessel also cause collisions.
Boating operators and boat owners must exercise a great deal of caution and care, and be properly licensed, in order to help avoid negligent behavior to help insure the safety of swimmers, other boats, jet skis, boat passengers, and others on the water so as to reduce the number of individuals who are injured or killed.