As you pass the Great Lakes, the 10,000 inland lakes or 35,000 miles of freshwater rivers, wetlands, and streams in Michigan, you’ll see boats populating the waterways. But just because someone has a boat, and just because recreational boaters are doing their best to enjoy the remaining days of summer, that doesn’t mean every boat driver is operating their machine safely.
With all those available, luscious waterways, Michigan has more registered boaters than any other state. But seasoned sailors are not alone on Michigan waters. New boaters, distracted sailors, and thrill-seekers are also occupying the calm blue liquid and the choppy seas. The combination of carelessness, lack of experience, and other inappropriate behavior like operating a boat while intoxicated can lead to serious boating accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
Keep yourself as safe as possible when you’re out boating by minding these points:
- Follow the waterway laws. Boating may seem like an opportunity to be carefree and exempt from the laws that apply to travelers on roadways. While Michigan lakes and rivers may not have traffic lights or stop signs, they are still governed by boating laws. Be a responsible Michigan boater and take a boating course to learn as much as possible about navigation and proper boat operation. Know the difference between a stand-down vessel and give-way vessel, how to use safety equipment, rescue techniques, and when to use your running lights
- Know the company you’re in. Boating accidents are so similar to auto accidents – no matter how experienced or careful you are, you are still sharing the “road” with people who might not be properly trained. Michigan doesn’t require boat owners to complete a boating safety course, which makes it even more treacherous when you encounter neophyte boaters on the water.
- Understand the dangers. The most common types of boating accidents involve two or more vessels crashing into one another, water-ski accidents, collision with a still object, electrical issues, and flooding of the watercraft. But one of the biggest contributors – and sometimes the sole cause – to all of these accidents is alcohol usage.
- Stay alert. About 75 percent of all boating accidents occur because of operator error. You can’t be responsible for another boater’s behavior, but you can do everything possible to stay alert, focused, and careful with your own boat and passengers. The traffic on Michigan waterways is as diverse as traffic on Michigan highways – speed boats, pontoon boats, canoes, sailboats, and more will take to the seas and impact your own ride.
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Boating is a leisure activity. Boaters will float along, then dock and continue to hang out. Some boaters will stop and fish. Other boaters will host a water skier. Some will be celebrating a special occasion and some will be looking for an escape from life. All of these boating activities can be a major distraction. Add in the use of smartphones – because many boaters, just like many auto drivers, aren’t putting down their phones to steer a boat – and danger lurks at every turn.
If you have been involved in a boating accident in Michigan, contact Femminineo Attorneys PLLC to speak with personal injury attorney David C. Femminineo about your case.