If you’re driving a boat, there are still “rules of the road” that must be followed. Many recreational accidents happen when drivers do not follow these rules and their boats collide. This can happen when drivers are drunk or distracted, of course, but also when they simply make mistakes because they’re unsure what to do in the moment.
Knowing the main safety rules for boating can protect you and your loved ones when you’re on the water.
3 rules for the right of way
Thankfully, there are three easy rules to follow when trying to determine which boat has the right of way. They are as follows:
- If the other boat is on the left (port) side, from your perspective, the right of way is yours. You do not have to deviate your direction or speed. They should let you proceed and they may have to change course.
- If the other boat is on the right (starboard) side, then the right of way is theirs. If you continue on and cause the crash, you are at fault. You need to make the proper adjustments to course and speed, and they should be drastic enough that the skipper on the other boat can tell that you’ve done so.
- If the other boat is behind you — at the stern — then the right of way is yours. They can pass you, but it is on them to make sure they do it safely. Once they have passed, though, they now have the right of way if they slow down and you move to pass them back.
These rules may seem simple, but mistakes happen every year. If you get injured due to another boater’s negligence, remember that you have a right to seek compensation for your losses.