As the weather warms and summer approaches, Lake of the Ozarks residents and visitors will start hitting the water in their boats. As you are boating, remember that it can be dangerous. Accidents happen, and as we can see, they are sometimes fatal.
Recent Boating Accident Statistics
Using the 2019 statistics, the 2020 Missouri Boating Statistics & Drownings tells us the following:
- While the total number of boat crashes decreased 4.6% from 2018 to 2019, the number of accidents and injuries went up. A total of 18 people were killed in 2019, and 104 others were injured. There were 165 crashes total, with 75 of those crashes resulting in property damage only.
- The leading cause of 2019 boat crashes was an inexperienced operator. A total of 94 crashes were found to have operators with no prior experience. The second major cause was from choppy water or weather conditions. At least 16 crashes were the result of drug or alcohol impairment.
- Of the 18 who were killed, 3 were from falling overboard, which is 16.7% of the total deaths.
- The most dangerous months for boating were from May to August, when 126 (76.4%) of the crashes occurred.
- Saturday and Sunday are the most dangerous days, totaling 116 (70%) of all crashes. Most of these crashed happened between 12:00 – 8:00 PM.
- The majority of the crashes – 77% – involved only one watercraft, including crashes that led to fatalities. Of the 18 fatalities, 16 (88.8%) were in single-watercraft crashes.
Conclusions We Can Draw
Only experienced operators should be handling the boat. As the numbers clearly indicate, too many people are attempting to operate a watercraft for the first time. You should not be attempting this. Take proper lessons, and don’t let your friends drive for fun.
Operators should be sober. People get out on the water, have a few drinks, and enjoy the water and the weather. The numbers show us that this is a bad idea. Do not drink while operating your boat.
Be extra careful during peak hours. Looking over the numbers, we can see that certain days and months are more dangerous than others. Those dates appear to coincide with times that more people are on the water – warm months and weekends. Clearly, these are the times when you will want to take your boat out. We encourage you to be cautious of other boats around you, keeping your guard up while everyone else is out on the water too.
Non-swimmers should be wearing life jackets. Three people died from falling off the boat. Drowning is not the only danger in going overboard, but a lifejacket will significantly increase the chances of survival if you go over.
What to Do in a Boating Accident
Tend to the Wounded
Your first order of business is to tend to anyone who was harmed in the accident. Your boat should have a first aid kit on board. If it doesn’t, get one before the next time you go boating. Once the immediate danger has passed, drop anchor and begin tending to anyone who needs help. When people are seriously injured, do not move them, and stop any bleeding you can. If there was another boat involved, help those people as well.
Call Emergency Services
Cell reception these days is good, but it may not reach across the water. Use channel 16 on your radio if necessary. Not only will the signal get to emergency services, but other boats may pick up your signal and come help. The response will come from either the marine police, fire department, or Coast Guard.
Most boating accidents in the state involve only one boat, but when there is another boat involved, exchange information with the other operator. The process will be the same as exchanging information in a car crash. Obtain the make and model of the other boat along with its registration number. Collect the other operator’s insurance. Note the day, time, and location, and take photos. Photograph any damage, no matter how slight. Take images of the surrounding area, especially any property damage that occurred. If you find witnesses to the event, get their information as well.
Note: If someone was injured or if there was property damage totaling more than $2,000, you must file a report with law enforcement. This is true for single- or multiple-boat accidents.
Call Your Insurance Company
Just like you would in a car accident, call your insurance once everything has calmed down. Hand over all documentation, including photos, police reports, medical diagnoses, etc.