While all boaters are required to operate their vessels safely, some boaters are safer than others. In fact, while some captains observe the rules of navigation and obey all state and federal requirements, others are downright dangerous—and these dangerous boaters present some of the greatest risks on the water.

To protect themselves from these dangerous boaters, there are several steps that other boat captains can take to avoid risky encounters. With that said, it won’t always be possible to avoid dangerous boaters entirely, and, as a result, some boat captains (and passengers) will find themselves in need of an experienced Miami boating accident lawyer.

How Can Recreational Boat Captains Avoid Dangerous Boaters?

So, what can you do to minimize your risk of being involved in an accident with a dangerous boater? Here are 10 tips from Miami boating accident lawyer Keith Brais:

1. Avoid High-Traffic Times at Boat Landings and Marinas

Many recreational boating accidents occur at or near landings and marinas. Anxious to get started or rushing to get home, many boaters make reckless and careless mistakes while attempting to get on or off the water. Many boaters lack the knowledge and experience required to maintain control of their vessels and safely navigate crowded areas as well.

As a result, one way to avoid dangerous boaters on the water is to avoid high-traffic times at boat landings and marinas. This includes the late morning hours and just before sundown. If you can plan to launch when dangerous boaters are less likely to be present, you can reduce your risk significantly.

2. Avoid Boating Distractions

Whether you are setting off, docking or navigating the open water, it is always important to avoid boating distractions. If you aren’t paying attention to the task at hand, you are far more likely to get into a high-risk situation with a dangerous boater.

3. Know the Telltale Signs of Reckless and Inexperienced Boating

There are several telltale signs of reckless and inexperienced boating—both of which can be equally dangerous. Knowing these signs will allow you to avoid dangerous boaters in many cases. For example, if you observe any of the following, you should give the boater a wide berth:

  • The boater is looking at this or her phone at the helm
  • The boater is drinking at the helm
  • The boater is unable to launch or dock successfully
  • The boater is weaving across the water or getting too close to land or fixed objects
  • The boater is failing to observe the basic rules of navigation or water safety

4. When In Doubt, Slow Down

In most cases, when you encounter a dangerous boater, the best thing to do is to slow down. This will give you more time to assess the situation and consider your options. Passing a dangerous boater in close proximity is almost never a good idea, and if you don’t have a safe way around, you may simply need to wait until you do.

5. Reroute If Necessary

If you are navigating a narrow stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) or another area without much room to pass, it may be best to reroute. This is especially true if you encounter a group of dangerous boaters on the water. If you left a float plan with a friend or family member before you left the boat landing or marina, be sure to let them know that your route has changed.

6. Choose an Alternate Destination If Necessary

Likewise, if getting to your destination seems too dangerous due to too many other high-risk boaters congregating in the vicinity, you may need to consider an alternate destination. For example, some of Miami’s most popular sandbars can get extremely crowded—and dangerous—during the summer months. There are lots of places to go boating in South Florida, and if getting to one particular destination isn’t safe, there are plenty of other options available.

7. Use Your Best Judgment

Any time you are boating, it is important to use your best judgment. If you have a feeling that another boater presents risks to you and your passengers, you should do what you think is best for the safety of everyone onboard. No one will fault you for being cautious, and everyone will be happy that you got them home safely after a carefree day on the water.

8. Use Your Boat’s Lights and Horn

If you launch before dawn or return after dusk, be sure to turn on your boat’s navigation lights. If you have spotlights or other lights onboard, don’t be afraid to use these to make yourself more visible to other boaters as well. Additionally, if you are concerned about a possible encounter with a dangerous boater, don’t hesitate to use your boat’s horn to get their attention.

9. Stay Calm and Avoid Confrontations on the Water

If you encounter a dangerous boater on the water, it is generally best to stay calm and avoid getting into any sort of confrontation. If a dangerous boater has made bad decisions already, there is a good chance that the boater will make more bad decisions if he or she gets angry or feels embarrassed or threatened.

10. Call the Coast Guard or FWC if Necessary

Finally, if you need to report a dangerous boater, you should contact the Coast Guard or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). You can use your VHF radio or your cell phone if you are close enough to shore. Be prepared to provide your location and a description of the dangerous boater’s vessel, and remain in communication with the Coast Guard or FWC as needed until the situation has been resolved.

Injured in an Accident? Contact Miami Boating Accident Lawyer Keith Brais

If you get injured in an accident involving a dangerous boater, you have clear legal rights—and you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. To discuss your legal rights with Miami boating accident lawyer Keith Brais in confidence, call us at 800-499-0551 or request a free consultation online today.

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