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Summer Boating Safety: Steering Clear of a Fatal Accident

With summer right around the corner, many residents of Kansas City are likely to want some recreational time with their friends and families. For many, water will play a large role, whether it’s a swimming pool or a lake for boating. As with all forms of recreation, though, boating requires a commitment to safety or else summer fun could give way to a damaging accident.

No one expects to be in a boating accident, but the truth is that accidents can happen on any state waterway. Therefore, it is important for boaters, or anyone considering buying a boat, to be familiar with basic boating safety before hitting the water. If a boater exhibits negligence, even without realizing it, and harms someone else, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit could result.

Avoiding a collision or fatal accident can be a by-product of avoiding other negligent or reckless actions. In Missouri, these include illegally overloading a boat beyond the capacity limits stipulated by the manufacturer, driving fast enough to pose a danger or injury to others, ignoring regulatory markers such as “idle speed” signs, or operating one’s boat in a restricted area. Per Missouri law, the reckless operation also includes harassing wildlife with one’s vessel and boating while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

Many fatal accidents can be avoided by steering clear of the potential for a collision. Unlike driving, though, boating does not have a particular “right of way” that one operator enjoys over the other. Instead, it is both operators’ responsibility to act in whatever manner necessary to avoid hitting another vessel. Keeping a sharp lookout, as well as only operating at a safe speed and distance from other boats can go a long way towards collision prevention.

Source: Missouri State Highway Patrol, “The handbook of Missouri boating laws and responsibilities,” (p. 16 and 48), accessed May 15, 2015