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Lehigh Valley residents: Don’t leave a day on the lake to chance

Pennsylvania has many beautiful lakes to attract boaters who want to enjoy a day of food and fun on the water with friends.

But whether you’re the boat operator or a passenger, heed this advice: Be careful.

The U.S. Coast Guard offers these sobering figures:

  1. In 2017, nearly 4,300 recreational boating accidents across the country resulted in 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries.
  2. There were 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered boats used for recreation. That amount is 6.9 percent less than in 2016.
  3. Among the deaths in which investigators knew the cause of death, 76 percent of the accident victims drowned. When reports indicated whether the victims had on a life jacket, 84.5 percent of them did not.
  4. In cases where the reason for the accident was known, alcohol was the leading cause in 19 percent of deaths.
  5. When the operator’s level of instruction was known, only 14 percent of deaths happened on boats operated by someone who had passed an approved boating-safety course. In 81 percent of deaths, the operator did not take such a course or have instruction.

Pennsylvania law requires all operators of motorboats or personal watercraft who were born Jan. 1, 1982, or later to complete an approved boater safety course.

Before you accept an offer for a day of fun on the water with a friend or family member, ask if the boat is equipped with life jackets and if the operator has a Pennsylvania certificate to drive the vessel. Once on board, if you sense the operator is intoxicated, get off the boat. As awkward as those conversations or situations might be, safety on the water is not to be left to chance.

If the unthinkable happens and you or a family member suffers an injury on a boat, a Pennsylvania attorney experienced in personal injury cases can inform you of your rights.