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    The Dangers of Boating Blind

    The Dangers of Boating Blind

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    Now that I have your attention, what I’m referring to is not blind in the sense of not being able to see, but blind in the sense of not being properly trained by taking a boater education course. Whether your recreational vessel is powered by an engine or yourself, boating is safer for all of us if you’ve taken a training course that addresses what you need to know about operating your vessel of choice.

    Being on the water is great fun and some of the best memories in my life are from going fishing with my dad, taking group paddling trips, sailing with friends, driving personal watercraft, and trips on my pontoon boat with family and friends. I know for a fact that the training I’ve taken for all of those on-water activities has saved my life and the lives of others with me.

    According to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) recreational boating statistics reports from the past four years, when instruction was known, an average of 76% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive any boating safety instruction. In 2018, the Outdoor Industry Foundation research identified that 22.9-million people paddled some type of paddle craft at least once that year and the National Marine Manufacturers Association estimate that there were more than 12-million registered boats. We would never think of allowing that many people on America’s highways without a driver’s license and the fact that we have so many people operating vessels on the water without any training or certification is mind-boggling.

    It would be nice if that knowledge alone was enough to motivate people to get proper training. However, people are more likely to take a training course or wear a life jacket if they perceive a risk or have experienced something hazardous in performing their activity. Why does it take something bad happening to you or someone you’ve heard about to scare you into getting training?

    The answer to that is based in the Protection Motivation Theory. This psychological theory has been studied for over 40 years and it’s basically a framework for how we make decisions. If we have no perception for the probability of being vulnerable to a threat and no concept for the moderate to high severity of a threat, then we aren’t likely to be motivated to change our behavior, or in this case, educate ourselves about preparing for inherent risks. This theory is supported by recent research done by the Outdoor Industry Association that shows that paddlers are 14% more likely to get training if something scares them about their activity.

    Some people profess to only wearing a life jacket if they are scared by weather or water conditions because they know how to swim. However, most deadly incidents happen on calm water and on sunny days and two-thirds of those who drown know how to swim! Eighty-four percent of those who drown in 2018 were not wearing a life jacket, according to the USCG.

    Most of us never think we’re going to be involved in a deadly boating incident. We associate that with boaters under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the horribly unfortunate people they encounter. However, according to the USCG recreational boating statistics reports in 2018, alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in only 19% of fatal boating incidents where the primary cause was known.

    There’s generally nothing risky about boating done safely. The point I’m trying to make is that by taking a training course, you will be better informed of the risks associated with your type of on-water activity and know how to safely deal with them. You will also be more likely to understand why it’s critical to wear a life jacket.

    There are numerous ways to get proper training for your vessel of choice. We are fortunate in the U.S. to have many options for classroom, hands-on, and online boating safety courses for all types of recreational vessels. Qualified volunteer organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons/America’s Boating Club, and others sponsor many courses, and many state boating agencies also provide classes. Explore training opportunities that can make you a better vessel operator and check out this list of options at

    Don’t wait for something to scare you into getting properly trained, because without training you’re essentially operating your vessel blindly. Get training now that will help ensure that all your memories on the water are fun and enjoyable!



    Date Taken: 01.23.2020
    Date Posted: 01.23.2020 13:26
    Story ID: 360080
    Location: US

    Web Views: 63
    Downloads: 0