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What are the biggest risks to Rhode Island boaters?

Recreational boating is a wonderful activity whether you're going out as a family or just cruising with some friends—but accident prevention is always something that you have to have in mind if you want to have a safe time, not just a good time.

What are the most common causes of boating accidents in Rhode Island? According to statistics from 2015, the most recent available from the United States Coast Guard, these are some of the things that you have to be the most concerned about while on the water:

-- Operator inattention was the number one contributing factor in all accidents. Distracted driving isn't just a problem on the roads, it's also a problem for modern boaters. If you're handling the boat, keep your cellphone in your pocket and your eyes on the water while you're in motion. Don't let yourself get distracted by your company until you've brought the boat to a stop.

-- Operator inexperience comes in a close second. It's important not to get overconfident about your boating skills. Handling a boat is far different from handling a car, and you have to learn to take weather patterns and waves into account. If your boating skills are rusty, consider a few practice runs in safe areas until you get back in the groove.

-- Improper lookouts rank third on the list of contributing factors for accidents. Not having someone keeping their eye out on the path you're taking could easily lead to collisions with another vessel or a fixed object, like a reef or stone outcropping (the number one and number two overall types of boating accidents).

In addition to these three factors, which you can try to control so that you reduce the chances of an accident, the statistical evidence also shows at least one other thing of importance: the number one known cause of death on the water comes from a failure to wear a life jacket. In fact, a life jacket was known to be worn in only 63 out of the 428 deaths that occurred that year.

If you are involved in a boating accident despite your precautions, and you weren't at fault, you may need to seek the aid of a personal injury attorney in order to recover for your losses.

Source: uscgboating.org, "2015 Recreational Boating Statistics," accessed March 03, 2017

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