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Boating accidents in Indiana: What you need to know

The Indiana State Parks system manages eight reservoirs, 17 marinas and 75 boat launch ramps.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to boating activity: accidents. Each year, boating accidents in Indiana cause deaths, injuries and property damage. If you become injured in a boating accident, be sure to get the care you need. Avoid mishaps by prioritizing safety and educating yourself about boating accidents.

Causes of boat accidents

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the biggest contributor to boating accidents in 2018 was operator inattention. Other leading causes include not having an inexperienced driver, mechanical failure and speeding. Alcohol use was the sixth-leading cause of accidents but the top cause in fatal accidents.

Boating accidents often lead to injury rather than death, but when victims die it is likely to be by drowning. Of those who drowned in 2018, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.

Common boating injuries

Boating accidents can lead to many of the same injuries as other vehicle accidents.

If you collide with an object or another boat, you may suffer cuts, burns, bruises or broken bones. Whiplash is possible in any collision. High-speed crashes or falling overboard can have more severe consequences, including spinal cord injuries, accidental amputation or trauma to the brain.

An added danger in boating is the possibility of drowning. Near-drowning can have long-term consequences such as coma, loss of motor function, memory loss and chronic fatigue.

How to prevent boating accidents

When boating, do your best to prevent serious accidents by paying close attention to your surroundings and traveling at reasonable speeds.

Be sure the watercraft, engine and propellers are maintained. Wear a life jacket and insist that others on your boat do the same. Never operate a boat while intoxicated.

If the weather becomes dangerous, return to shore immediately. You may need to cut your trip short — but you, your passengers and your boat will be able to go out in the future and enjoy another day of boating.