When you’re a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, the best way to protect yourself is to wear your seatbelt. In combination with airbags, a seatbelt can save your life in a crash.
But when you’re a passenger on someone else’s boat, you can’t rely on those safety features, as they aren’t present in boats. Instead, you need to take steps to protect yourself as best you can in the event of a crash or accident.
The next time you ride in a boat as a passenger, keep these tips in mind to reduce your risks of suffering an injury.
Remain Seated While the Boat is in Motion
Some of the most common boating injuries don’t involve collisions with other boats. Instead, they involve passengers losing their balance, falling, and striking their heads or other parts of their bodies on surfaces inside the boat.
When the boat you’re riding on is moving, stay seated. Whether you choose the bow or stern, sit only in designated seating areas while the boat is in motion. Never sit on the side of the boat (gunwale) or on a non-open bow that doesn’t have seating while the boat is moving.
Don’t Get on the Boat if It’s Over Capacity
Whether they’re pontoon boats, catamarans, sailboats, or ski boats, all boats have maximum capacities for weight and number of passengers. You should not exceed the number of people the boat is rated to carry, even if doing so keeps you under the boat’s maximum weight limit.
Never ride on a boat where there are more passengers than seats. And if you’re riding on a boat that is near capacity, ensure that passengers sit in a manner to distribute their weight all around the boat rather than having everyone sit on one side or at the stern.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Anyone driving a boat should never consume alcohol. Oklahoma has laws against boating under the influence, and cited drivers can be arrested, sentenced to jail, fined, and face other penalties.
Although there are no restrictions on passengers aged 21 and up from drinking alcohol on boats in Oklahoma, you should drink responsibly and moderately. Boat passengers who are intoxicated are more likely to suffer injuries due to falling down in the boat or falling overboard. Passengers who have been drinking are also more likely to be unable to brace themselves properly before impact in a crash.
Avoid Distracting the Driver While the Boat is in Motion
Boating is a leisure activity, and it often involves plenty of good conversation with other boat passengers and the person driving the boat. However, you should be aware that engaging the driver in conversation while the boat is in motion could increase your risk of an accident.
Driving a boat requires the same level of focus and concentration as driving a vehicle, and because boats are open-air vehicles, it’s often more difficult for people to hear each other while they’re moving. Because of that, the boat driver may have to focus more intently or even turn to face you while you’re talking, which means their focus and eyes aren’t on the water ahead.
Wear a Life Jacket
All children under the age of 13 are legally required in Oklahoma to wear life jackets while on vessels that are under 26 feet in length. In addition, all boats are legally required to have at least one life jacket for every passenger on board. However, far too often, life jackets aren’t worn and are difficult to reach or access while boats are underway.
To best protect yourself, wear a life jacket at all times while on a boat, especially while the boat is in motion. If you don’t want to wear a life jacket for the entire time that you’re on a boat, have one handy and easily accessible near where you are sitting.
Contact Our Oklahoma Boat Accident Lawyers After a Boat Injury
As a boat passenger, you must not only trust that the person driving the boat is experienced, skilled, and safety-conscious, but that all other boaters and watercraft operators nearby are as well. Unfortunately, not everyone has safety as their top priority when they’re spending a day on one of Oklahoma’s many lakes.
If you or someone you love was injured while riding on a boat due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how to hold negligent parties accountable for boat passenger injuries.
Whether the responsible party was another boater or even the driver of the boat you were on, we’ll work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.