Following the Rules of the Water to Avoid a Boating Accident

Following the Rules of the Water to Avoid a Boating Accident

Many drivers are familiar with the “Rules of the Road.” These rules are in place to protect motorists and pedestrians and include the proper passing and signaling procedures, require drivers to drive on the right side of the road, and cover other safe driving procedures like safe following distances between cars and when to use a car’s headlights and highbeams.

Just like on land, there are rules in place on the water to protect boaters, swimmers, and people using personal watercraft. It is not uncommon for boaters and others on the water, especially those new to the water, to be ignorant of these rules. In general, the water is a much more open space and boaters are bound to less restrictive operating procedures than motorists. However, the trend in recent decades has been to require boaters to hold boating licenses and complete safety courses before taking to the water. The rules of the waterways that are in place to prevent boating accidents include the following:

Know Which Vessel has the Right of Way

Just like cars on the road, boats in certain positions have the right of way. Proceeding because you have the right of way is known as standing on course, while allowing another boat to pass is known as giving way. When crossing paths, the boat on the left has the right away. Sailboats using wind power only and commercial boats always have the right of way.
Know How to Communicate with Other Boats

Have an air horn on board in case you need to communicate with another boater. Familiarize yourself with the language of using these air horns so you know how to use them when signaling your desire to pass another boat or a warning about a hazard in the water.

Obey Posted Signage

There is a lot less signage on the water than there is on the road. You will not find a yield sign or a speed limit on the water, but that does not mean there are no posted signs. When in sheltered areas, you might see a sign calling for a slow speed or no wake. In open areas, you will see channel markers noting where you should drive your boat. One rule to keep in mind with these is “red is on your right when you return.” This means that when you are heading toward the land, the red channel markers should be on your right-hand side. If they are not, you are driving on the wrong side of the channel and putting yourself at risk of colliding with another boat.

The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C.

Work with a Barrington Boating Accident Attorney

Even if you obey the rules of the water, you could be involved in a boating accident and suffer an injury. If this happens to you, consider seeking compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. Contact The Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today to schedule your initial legal consultation with an experienced Illinois boating accident attorney.



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