a ruler's guide to the lake
In an ongoing series, we'll look at some great standards and best practices to live by on The Lake to maximize your lake rep and go down in the annals of Lake history as one of the greats!
It’s still the beginning of lake season, so you still have time to read a boating guide. In fact, here’s one for you:
I realize it’s for Indiana, but most of it applies everywhere. I take the same approach to boating as I do for driving, which is that I operate under the assumption that everyone else out there is a complete moron. My Driver’s Ed teacher would call that: DEFENSIVE DRIVING. While I don’t believe that you (definitely not you dear reader!) and everyone else are morons, I also recognize that many people are, or at least they are lacking in self-awareness, or completely self-involved and therefore oblivious to their surroundings. On the Lake, it’s “if you can drive a car, you can drive a recreational vehicle.” Even if you have never, ever, driven a boat or wave runner, you can drive a boat with a valid driver's license. If you're under 16, you can actually take a boating course and operate a recreational vehicle. I didn't know that when I was 14 and got my first ever ticket. Sorry Dad!
Those of you reading this are hopefully King and Queens of your lake (submit an entry by the way and be featured), so you, of course, have read a boating guide! If you haven’t, be sure to read the one I just gave you….YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING OUT THERE! Enjoying the lake is a relatively easy endeavor, however, accidents can and will happen because obliviots are everywhere, and sometimes bad things just happen.
Here are some stats from www.uscgboating.org
· In 2014, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
· The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 10.6% increase from last year’s fatality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
· Compared to 2013, the number of accidents increased 0.05%, the number of deaths increased 8.9%, and the number of injuries increased 2.2%.
· Where cause of death was known, 78% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.
· Where instruction was known, 23% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only 12% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.
· Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
· Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
· Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of deaths.
· Twelve children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2014. Seven children or approximately 58% died from drowning. Four children or 57% of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket; two were not required to by state law.
· Where data was known, the most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (17%), and cabin motorboats (15%).
· Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), canoes (13%), and kayaks (10%).
· The 11,804,002 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2014 represent a 1.7% decrease from last year when 12,013,496 recreational vessels were registered.
Chilling….and mostly preventable! You can read the full report here:
That is some serious stuff there, and while being on the lake is awesome and amazing, and better than not being on the lake, it can get real serious real fast. I like to have my fun on the lake in the safest way possible.
Here are my top tips for boating safely:
OK fellow Lakers, you’ve been refreshed! El Nino is finally over and Mother Nature is bringing the heat, get out there and Rule The Lake (just do it safely)! Leave a comment and tell us some of the bad behavior that you see out there, and if you’re the offending party, utilize the friendly boat wave as an apology and you’ll be good!