5 Boating Safety Tips in Alabama
The open waters of Mobile Bay invite adventurers to absorb the sun, sea, and stress-free experience of sailing and boating. There you can leave behind the cellphones and computers and begin to feel like you are living your life again.
But as you depart the land, don’t leave common sense behind as well.
Boating accidents are almost always avoidable if you are prepared. Unfortunately, that was not the case for 21 who died in the 70 boating accidents in Alabama in 2017, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Boats are getting faster all the time and with more than 200,000 registered boaters in Alabama, not everyone understands the risks. Let’s see what we can learn from those experiences.
5 Boating Safety Tips in Alabama
- Avoid High Winds – During the time a storm is forming or predicted to come into our area, you are highly advised to stay off the water. Even the most experienced sailor cannot often navigate the unpredictably of Mother Nature. In a speed boat, you may not be able to outrun an approaching storm. And remember, the mast of a sailboat can conduct lightening. Try to get to the closest safe shelter.
- Adequate Equipment – If you find yourself on the water at night, you must have navigation lights on your boat. If not, please remember to carry a flashlight and shine the beam on the sail to warn approaching vessels of your presence. Sailboats with an engine must have red, green, and white navigation lights. Keep your boat in good working condition checking belts, fluids and motors before taking off. Safety equipment should be onboard including whistle, flares, a fire extinguished, a marine VHF radio and tool kit.
- Avoid Drunk Boating – Under Alabama law, you may not operate a boat under the influence (BUI), which includes water skis, personal watercraft, motorboats, or sailboats. Unfortunately, alcohol is a major contributor to most boat crashes and injuries on the water. A BUI conviction can revoke boating privileges of the operator for 90 days, impose a fine up to $2,100, or lead to prison for up to one year, and that is just the first BUI conviction. It becomes much more serious after that.
- Know the Rules of Boating – This includes traffic laws on the waterways. You are required to maintain a safe speed and look out for other boaters to avoid collisions. Personal flotation devices (PFD) are required for every passenger onboard, even a baby. Keep a first aid kit onboard in case of emergencies. Someone under the age of 12 may not operate a motorized vessel, even a jet ski. It is illegal for any boat to tow a person on water skis one hour after sunset, overnight to one hour before sunrise. You may not discharge raw sewage in any state waters.
- Avoid Reckless Operation – It is a violation of Alabama rules to operate a boat in any matter that endangers the public. Operator error causes the majority of boating accidents, reports State Farm. Reckless operation includes creating a wake, operating at high speeds, boating too close to another when they are engaged in diving, exceeding the maximum capacity, not having a lookout for other vessels, and having individuals sit on the bow while underway unless there are adequate guards or railings.
The offices of J. Allen Brown strongly encourage you to follow the law and take a state proficiency exam or complete a boater safety course. You must carry your operator’s license with you. So many people take to the water with virtually no experience and think they can’t be hurt.
If you find yourself injured as the result of a boating accident, you need to immediately contact an experienced Alabama boating accident attorney who will help you uncover the responsible party and fight for your compensation.
Attorney J. Allen Brown understands Alabama’s boating laws and will guide your legal representation. We will quickly interview any witnesses to the scene and uncover the layers of liability after reviewing the events that led up to the accident and assessing the damages you suffered.