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Tis the season for safe boating. Local waterways fill up this time of year as boating accidents become a common occurrence, but most can be avoided by safe boating habits. Photo Contributed

Safe Boating: It’s Smart- It’s The Law

MADISON- As stay-at-home COVID-19 restrictions continue to relax, boaters are beginning to exit their confinements and hit the local waterways, which can mean added traffic on the local waters and more chances for accidents to occur. The Alabama Marine Patrol is busy fortifying its presence on the recreational landscape and urge boaters of all ages to “Boat smart from the start and wear your life jacket.”

Most boating fatalities are the result of capsizing or falls overboard when the victims were not wearing a life jacket. Expect the unexpected and wear a life jacket as the life saving device will not work, if it’s not worn.

In 2019, Alabama had 101 reported accidents, 25 of which were fatal with 28 total number of deaths and 58 additional injuries. The total amount of property damage was over three quarters of a million dollars.

Practice Safe Boating And Wear Life Jacket- Friend For Life

The Alabama Marine Patrol urges boaters to practice safe and courteous boating practices, by being aware of your surroundings in and out of the water, know the laws of the waterway and be considerate to other boaters, especially in heavily traveled areas.

Above all, wear your life jacket and follow the rule of a life jacket for each person onboard the vessel. The Alabama Marine Patrol stress the fact a “life jacket is your friend for life.”

One of the factors on local waterways that many forget are the wakes water vessels of all sizes make. First and foremost, wakes endanger other crafts or individuals in the water. Secondly, wakes can cause property damage on the water or on nearby shore.

There are more boaters on the waterways than ever before as crafts have become more affordable. More people causes more need to know responsibilities. More than 85-percent of deaths on waterways featured those people not wearing a floating device. Having life jackets on a vessel is just one of many rules of the water that each boater should know when traveling onto the fun waters of the area.

Be Smart-Be Responsible

Summer outings on the lakes and rivers of the Tennessee Valley should be a fun and enjoyable time for all who venture onto local waters. Knowing and observing the rules on the water are the most important ways to assure a safe experience on the water. Check safety equipment before you leave for the water. Most don’t think about a vessel’s fire extinguisher. Those go bad over time and can be compromised by the summer heat and the vibration of being on the waterway.

The most important item to remember in regards to boating safety is use common sense. Anyone being towed on skis or a tube, riding a Jet Ski or Sea Doo, or boating within 800 feet below a dam must wear a life jacket.

Alcohol Use- Contributing Factor

Over the last five years there have been a reported 28 deaths across Alabama waterways as result of alcohol being the contributing factor.

On average, 700 boaters across the United States die each year in boating accidents with many of those stemming from alcohol abuse, which is the single biggest cause of accidents on local waterways. Intoxication from too much alcohol consumption causes a person to lose the ability to operate a water vessel or be safe overall. Being impaired causes loss of balance as it is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol, and when you combine this with the rocking of the boat, many times the chances of falling overboard increases dramatically.

Alabama Marine Patrol officers found most of those intoxicated boaters have the sense of its all about ‘me’ and forget they are endangering others. Many show lack of courtesy, which goes back to the ‘me’ attitude.

Safe boating classes for those skills needed to assure the local waterways remain safe are currently available on-line via the Alabama Marine Patrol. Boating license information and education classes are available at boat-ed.com/Alabama.

Boating Facts And Figures

In 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,168 accidents that involved 613 deaths as a result of recreational boating accidents. Here are more facts to know on safe boating:

  • Deaths on waterways in the U.S. decreased 3.2-percent from 2018-2019
  • 79-percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned- 86-percent were not wearing a life jacket
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents
  • The most common vessel types involved in accidents was open motorboats
  • The highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats


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