The impact of the ongoing drought in California continues to grow. Last
month, the California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways
(DBW) issued a warning to boaters.
According to the agency, drought conditions are creating additional hazards
on the water. Therefore, it is imperative for all boaters to exercise
additional caution this summer, particularly in areas impacted by the
drought. “As water levels drop, underwater hazards become more prevalent,”
said DBW’s Acting Deputy Director Christopher C. Conlin. “It is critical for all boaters, inland and coastal, to plan ahead,
exercise caution and make sure everyone in a boat is wearing a proper-fitting
While the overall number of boating accidents in California dropped slightly
in 2014, the DBW highlighted that the number of recreational boat collisions
with fixed objects and groundings increased. The agency ascribes the spike
in crashes to low water levels and boat driver inattention.
Other boating accident statistics also confirm the heightened risks created
by the drought. Collisions with fixed objects skyrocketed nearly 60 percent,
while there was a 23 percent increase in groundings. Accidents on lakes
decreased 29 percent, while accidents on coastal waters increased 35 percent,
which the DBW attributes to the drought-induced shift of boating recreation
from inland lakes to coastal areas.
As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, the best
way to stay safe on the water is to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Of the 39 California boating fatalities in 2014, 59 percent of victims
drowned. In most cases, they were not wearing a life jacket. Below are
several other tips from the DBW:
Plan ahead: Find out if your favorite boating spot has any boating operating restrictions.
If your favorite spot is closed for boating and you opt to boat in a river
or ocean, remember that operating vessels in these environments is very
different from lakes. Plan ahead, take a boating safety class or invite
someone with experience to show you how to boat safely in rivers or the ocean.
Hazards: Adjust your boating activities to the drought conditions. Water conditions
are low enough in many places to make for hazardous boating. Areas that
were easily boated a year ago may be dangerous this year. Keep a proper
lookout for trees, snags, sandbars, etc.
Boat responsibly: Take a boating safety class or course to further minimize boating accidents.
It is also critical for everyone in a boat to practice common-sense measures,
such as wearing a life jacket at all times, avoiding the consumption of
alcohol and operating boats at safe speeds. Last year, the top three causes
of California boating accidents were operator inattention, excessive speed
and operator inexperience.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego boating
accident, don’t hesitate to
contacta San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.