The Natural State is known for being one of the most beautiful places for water recreation, but when individuals do not use common sense on waterways, accidents happen. The 2007 boating season is hardly under way and already there have been more fatal accidents than in 2006.
When the weekend comes, boaters hit the water and some do not take into account that other boaters are out there as well.
According to Bob Cushing, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Boating Education Program coordinator, "Most boating accidents are the results of collisions with other boats or objects in the water. As a result of these collisions, some boaters are thrown from their boat and, in a lot of cases, drown because they are not wearing life jackets. Paying close attention to your surroundings and always keeping a proper lookout is a huge part in being a defensive boater that can prevent the majority of the accidents. Also, wearing life jackets at all times while in a boat will certainly save lives."
Arkansas law states that any individual born on or after Jan. 1, 1986, must complete a boater education course before they operate any powerboat, sailboat or personal watercraft. However, the course is open to boaters of all ages and educates individuals on water regulations and safety.
In 2006, the highest number of individuals involved in accidents were between 31 and 50.
Those boaters were not required to take the boater education course.
The number of accidents so far in Arkansas is 22, 10 of which have been fatal.
According to Maj. Stephanie Weatherington of the AGFC Enforcement Division, "Many accidents occur when boaters are out during weather conditions which are not suitable for the size of the boat being operated or individuals are not wearing life jackets. The majority of accidents involve boats that are less than 16 feet long."
What many boaters do not take into account is that their weekend on the water may be relaxing but also can be tiring.
Constant sun and the rocking of the boat give boaters what Weatherington calls "boater fatigue." This may alter a boater's responses and may hinder the ability to operate the vessel.