Summer Is Here (So Is Boating Accident Danger)
With so many lakes and rivers in Wyoming, boating activities are among the many outdoor activities that both residents and visitors turn to in abundance during the summer months. And while getting out on the water is a great way to beat the heat and to have fun with family and friends, accidents also pose a major threat, especially when safety is not a priority.
Don’t let your summer vacation be ruined by a tragic boating accident. Take all necessary precautions before heading out on the water.
And if an accident does occur, make sure to consult with a Wyoming boat accident lawyer who can advise you on all of your options and will make sure you are properly compensated for any injuries.
Where Is Boating Popular in Wyoming?
There’s no doubt that boating is one of America’s most popular pastimes. Recreational boating, defined as using a boat for sport or leisure activities such as fishing or water skiing, attracts more than 87 million adults every year. In 2016, recreational boats sold in the U.S. brought in over 3.6 billion dollars. Of the 11.87 million recreational boating vessels registered in the U.S. in 2015, the majority fall into categories such as sailboats, personal watercrafts, sterndrive boats, inboard boats, and outboard boats.
While coastal states such as Florida, Texas, and Washington, or states along the major U.S. waterways, including the Mississippi, Ohio, and Columbia rivers, are famed for their recreational boating activities, not many people think of Wyoming when it comes to boating. However, the truth is that our state not only attracts people from all over the world to go fishing in some of our well-stocked rivers, but there are many popular spots for other boating activities as well.
Locations such as Jackson Lake, Big Sandy Reservoir, and Green River are just a few of the popular bodies of water here. Popular activities include fishing, rafting, kayaking, motorboating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and more. Unfortunately, while boating can provide great memories and lots of fun, it can often be quite dangerous.
How Dangerous Is Recreational Boating?
Across the United States, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 boating accidents, of which 610 resulted in fatalities in 2014. Their report found that boater inattention was the main cause of accidents, but for just those accidents that involved a death, alcohol was the leading culprit. Another scary statistic is that 78% of the victims drowned, and of those, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.
Another factor when it comes to boating in Wyoming is that we don’t have some of the big sailboats and yachts you will find in coastal locations. Our boats tend to be of the smaller variety. You might think these boats are safer, but the truth is the opposite. People riding in small boats, including canoes, kayaks, and rafts, are actually twice as likely to drown than people in larger vessels.
What Laws Govern Operating Boats in Wyoming?
There are a number of state regulations that are commonly ignored, leading to a greater risk of accidents. First of all, it’s against the law to operate a motorized boat that hasn’t been registered. You must also carry your certification on board with you and have your numbers properly displayed, much like with a motor vehicle.
People often fail to carry the proper safety equipment with them as well. You must bring life jackets for every person on the boat. If your boat is 16 feet or longer, you must have a throwable flotation device. For motorboats with enclosed compartments, it’s necessary to carry a fire extinguisher. Additionally, you should have a sound producing device.
Other violations involve unsafe or improper operation of the vessel. For instance, the failure to obey buoys, markers, or signs, careless or reckless operation of the vessel, exceeding permissible speeds in marked areas, or people who are under 16 years of age operating a vessel are all violations of Wyoming laws.
Finally, boating under the influence or while impaired is a serious problem that is much more likely to result in an accident. Like with driving, the legal limit for operating a boat is a blood alcohol content level of .08%. Harsh penalties can be imposed on people who are convicted of a BUI, especially for repeat violations.
It’s important to note that while your boat must be registered, you don’t need a license to operate a water-borne vessel in the State of Wyoming. Moreover, liability insurance is not mandatory. That means if you are in an accident caused by another boater, it may be difficult to be properly compensated for your injuries and property damage.
Boating accidents can be extremely traumatic, leaving victims with severe injuries and steep medical bills. That’s why you need a Gillette personal injury attorney who understands Wyoming boating laws and the rights of victims. Contact Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., today at (307) 257-7800 to schedule a free consultation.
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