Stay Safe This Summer on Boats, Jet Skis and ATVs

The hot, hazy, and lazy days of late summer are here. For many, there’s no better way to spend a summer day than on the water or cruising the great outdoors. With nearly 12 million recreational vessels and 1.2 million ATVs in the U.S., Americans clearly enjoy summertime recreation. 

Joyful times can quickly turn deadly, however, if you’re not vigilant about safety – at all times. In 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,439 boating incidents that resulted in 658 deaths, 2,641 injuries, and about $67.5 million in property damage. And the Consumer Product and Safety Commission says there were at least 15,744 ATV-related fatalities between 1982 and 2018. Whether you’re racing across the water or off-roading with your ATV, you should know how to keep caution and safety top of mind.

Common-Sense Safety Tips for Summer Recreation

Whether operating a personal watercraft or being towed behind, make the most of the season with these common-sense safety tips.

When boating:

  • Take a course – When you consider that operator inexperience is one of the top five reasons for boat crashes, it makes sense to get educated and be prepared. The U.S. Coast Guard has compiled a list of courses. 

  • Get a checkup – The Coast Guard also offers Vessel Safety Checks for free! Download the boating safety mobile app to request a vessel check and more. 

  • Have suitable life jackets – A life jacket for canoeing is not sufficient for jet skiing, so have the appropriate life jackets for the activity you’re planning.

  • Plan – Only boat during fair weather conditions and avoid excursions in low-light or after dark. Pass a detailed float plan along to someone you know with a plan to alert authorities if something goes wrong. Driving distracted can be fatal. Avoid eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, attending to a text, or doing anything that might take your eyes off the road.
  • Avoid alcohol – You booze, you lose. The Safe Boating Council reports alcohol is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents. It’s best to avoid it for all outdoor activities involving a recreational vessel.

When jet skiing:

  • Keep the safety lanyard close – Use the ignition safety switch that cuts power to the engine if you fall off. Hook the lanyard to your life jacket or keep it around your wrist at all times.

  • Wear your life jacket – Concussions and head trauma are common injuries involving jet skis. Your life jacket will keep you afloat in the event of an accident. 

  • Follow proper boating etiquette – Avoid sharp turns near another vessel, jumping, following a boat too closely, or chasing other watercraft, as these maneuvers are illegal in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S.

  • Be on the lookout – Choppy, high-use water can mask downed skiers, swimmers, and small boats. 

  • Learn how to stop – Aside from taking a safety course, at the very least, learn how long it takes to stop as it takes longer for a personal watercraft to come to a complete stop.

With ATVs:

  • Inspect your ATV – An inspection can minimize the chance of being injured or stranded. Download the ATV Safety Institute’s pre-ride inspection checklist. 

  • Wear the right gear – Always have goggles, long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves, and a DOT-compliant helmet.

  • Ride safely – Drive only during daylight, on designated trails, and at a safe speed.

  • Avoid paved roads – ATVs are classified as off-highway vehicles; avoid driving on paved roads except to cross. 

  • Choose the right fit – ATVs are not one size fits all. Choose one that’s right for your height, skill level, and capabilities.

Contact Bache & Lynch if You’ve Been Injured from a Recreational Vehicle

With high speeds, longer stop times and no protective frame, boats, jet skis and ATVs can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced operators. If you were involved in an accident involving any one of these, or wish to discuss the specifics of your case (including who may be liable in the event of an accident) in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.