Even though Atlanta is a dense urban center, boating is a popular pastime. In fact, it’s popular across the whole state. There are over 330,000 recreational boating vessels in Georgia. With multiple lakes around an hour away from the ATL, it’s easy to become a hobbyist, dropping in a boat on holidays and weekends in your favorite lake.
However, with a variety of experience levels when it comes to boat ownership, you have to watch out for others just as much as you need to ensure your own passengers are safe while on the lake. It’s all about having fun, being careful, and avoiding a boating accident as best you can.
The big three Atlanta lakes
While there are plenty of lakes to pick from when taking out a boat, Atlanta does have some popular destinations.
Lake Lanier is probably the most well-known lake. About an hour from Atlanta, it’s 26 miles long and has 692 miles of shoreline. The lake attracts around eight million visitors a year for recreational activities. It also has 10 full-service marinas. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, there were 24 boating accidents on Lake Lanier in 2021 that resulted in 17 injuries and five fatalities.
Lake Allatoona is only about 30 miles from Atlanta. When full, the lake covers more than 12,000 acres with 270 miles of shoreline. You’ll find eight marinas around the lake for your boating needs. In 2021, Altoona had eight boating accidents, resulting in six injuries and one fatality.
A slightly further drive, Lake Oconee is about an hour and 15 minutes from Atlanta. At 19,000 acres with a 374 mile shoreline, it’s the second largest lake in Georgia. There are 10 marinas around the lake, which is especially nice for sport fishermen as Lake Oconee is known for some of the best fishing in the Southeast. Boating accidents totaled 10 in 2021, with only two injuries and no fatalities.
Even on these larger lakes in Georgia, a boat crash can happen, and it’s up to you to know how to stay as safe as possible.
6 boat safety tips no matter what lake you’re on
Being a responsible boater, even if you’re only out for the day to have some fun, is essential to the safety of everyone out on the lake. Make sure you prepare with a boat safety kit and plenty of life jackets and then practice boat safety the whole time you’re on the water.
- Be mindful of your boat’s capacity and don’t overload. It could cause your boat to tip.
- Keep an eye on the weather and try not to be out if a storm is approaching.
- Stay alert while driving and always go at the legal speed.
- Make sure passengers are within the boat’s railings any time you’re moving.
- Learn how to properly drop anchor to ensure your boat doesn’t drag.
- Put bumpers out before you begin to dock.
It’s also a good idea to take a boat safety course, especially if you plan on being out on the water regularly.
If you’re a boat owner, you should also make sure you also have boaters insurance before you ever take your boat out. This covers physical damage to the boat, but also has liability coverage should a boat crash damage another boat, dock, or other structure. Liability also covers personal injury.
What to do if you’re in a boat accident
Should you end up in a boating accident, the basic procedure of what to do next is very similar to how you react to a car accident. After checking that all your passengers are okay, call 911. If you don’t have cell reception, you can radio for emergency support by making a distress call on channel 16.
Next, gather information from the other boats involved in the accident. You should collect contact and insurance information but also take down the other boat’s make, model, and registration number.
It’s always a good idea to heavily document the accident as well. Take as many pictures as you can and don’t forget to file an accident report.
You’ll also want to notify your insurance company, and consider getting legal representation if you’re at all concerned about settling the boat accident fairly. Hiring an personal injury lawyer can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
For a devoted team of attorneys who put their clients first at every turn, Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson has the experience to support you through the legal process should you find yourself in a boating accident. Whether seeking damages for personal injury or property damage, we create a customized plan to fight for your rights. They’ll take on the stress of the case so you can focus on you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.