Boating Accidents in Canada: Causes and Preventive Measures

Did you know that every year about 100 Canadians die and many more suffer serious injuries due to boating accidents? That is why understanding the reasons behind these accidents and finding ways to prevent them is important. But before we outline the probable reasons, what do you think causes boat accidents? Is it the negligence of the operator or the occupants? Either way, lives end and it is an irreplaceable loss. You would naturally question the cause of the incident. For instance, if the death occurred due to the carelessness of the boater, you as a family member may be eligible to be compensated for the loss under the guidance of a personal injury lawyer. Though you will not get your loved one back, the compensation can ease the financial burden you are likely to experience after their loss.

Boating Accidents in Canada

Accidents are, however, preventable if you follow rules and regulations for safe boating. Before we list these preventive measures, let’s learn about the major reasons behind boating accidents.

What Causes Boating Accidents?

Here are some reasons for boating accidents:

1. Impairment

When a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are unable to function normally. Alcohol impairment is one of the main factors leading to boating fatalities. According to the Canadian Red Cross, 40% of boating accidents take place due to alcohol impairment. Remember, alcohol is a depressant that slows the functioning of the central nervous system which means brain function is delayed. Drug impairment is equally risky as the person is not in their right mind. That’s why impaired boating is so risky, but boaters usually do not face the same penalties, fines or prison sentences as drunk drivers.

2. Carelessness

Boating channels have strict speed limits, just like highways. That is why careless or inattentive boating can lead to fatal accidents and why boaters should strictly follow those limits and navigate water traffic accordingly. But too few adhere to these rules as reckless boating is common to many of these accidents.

3. Weather Hazards

Though weather is unpredictable, boaters should always check local forecasts before heading out to sea. They should also equip their boats with safety and communication equipment to survive an accident. In this way, boaters can save lives. This is, however, too often not the case, as according to a Canadian Red Cross study of boating deaths, 40% of drowning deaths and 50% of water-related fatalities are connected to boating.

What Preventive Measures Can Be Taken?

Just because boating accidents happen doesn’t mean you can’t prevent them. To find out how, keep reading:

1. Attentive Driving

As we have already mentioned that carelessness leads to accidents, boaters should be attentive when at the helm. This includes checking speed limits, avoiding shipping lanes or crowded ferry routes and taking weather into account. The latter is important because boating in high winds, heavy fog and rain can be fatal.

2. Avoiding Alcohol and Drugs

Boaters should strictly avoid consuming alcohol or recreational drugs as impairment is a common cause of accidents on the water. Each province as its own rules on consuming and carrying alcohol on a boat. Drugs, on the other hand, are completely illegal. If boaters are found guilty, they can be fined a minimum $1,000 and imprisoned up to five years.

3. Considering Canadian Boating Regulations

To prevent accidents, boaters should adhere to Canadian boating regulations administered by Transport Canada. All boats are supposed to carry certain safety measures, but these may vary based on boat sizes and types. Here is a list of things that all boats should carry:

  • Lifejackets or PFDs (personal floatation devices) for all occupants
  • A whistle or horn as a signaling device
  • One manual propelling device like a paddle
  • Re-boarding device (required if the vertical height to climb the boat is over 0.5 meters)
  • Flares (if the boat travels more than 1.852 km from shore)
  • A bilge-pumping arrangement or bailer (if the boat doesn’t have watertight compartments)
  • Navigation lights (for boating before sunrise and after sunset)
  • A 15 m-long buoyant heaving line.

Additional Safety Requirements for Motorized Boats

Apart from the above-listed basics, motorized boats should also carry the following safety measures:

  • Multiple flares
  • Radar reflector
  • Anchor
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Magnetic compass

Important Note:

  • Boaters should carry their Pleasure Craft Operator card or boating license at all times when cruising on the waters.
  • No one under the age of 12 is allowed to operate a boat.

That’s a brief summary of all the probable reasons behind boating accidents and how to prevent them. If all boaters adhere to Canadian boating regulations and follow the rules, the number of fatal accidents will decrease. However, if you are in a situation where you have lost your loved one in a boating accident, investigate the matter thoroughly with the help of a personal injury lawyer who will help you get justice and rightful compensation.