Boating is a safe pastime. With more than 700,000 boats on our waters, and millions of us holding a recreational vessel operators’ licence, it is, thankfully and remarkably, uncommon to witness a major incident involving property damage, injury or death on the water.
And yet, around 40 members of the boating community die each year as a result of finding themselves in tragic situations, while our claims files tell us that many more are lucky enough to narrowly escape disaster every day.
Every legal jurisdiction requires the master of any vessel involved in a significant incident to report it to local authorities (just like if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident on the road), yet we estimate that only around 20 per cent of marine incidents are reported. Club Marine has been requesting our members to lodge a marine-incident report with their local authorities as part of our claims-handling process for around a year now and we are pleased to see that this has already resulted in a notable increase in reporting rates.
You may ask: “why do we want to see significant marine incidents reported?” It comes down to two things. Firstly, it will help save lives and secondly, it will have a positive impact on our claims experience.
For many years, government statisticians at all levels have been collecting and analysing data about motor vehicle accidents. As a result, they have become better at directing money into road safety projects that target known causes of accidents and black spot locations. The result is a decrease in the amount of motor accident fatalities and major injuries on the roads.
State and Federal governments even cooperate (imagine that!) to co-fund the research, education initiatives and civil engineering projects that they believe will have the biggest impact on reducing the road toll each year.
But statisticians lack a true picture of what is causing accidents on the water. There is a need for reliable data about marine accidents. In the absence of facts, we can only speculate about causes. For instance, what is the correlation between accidents and the experience of the skipper, the weather conditions, the type, age and construction of the vessel? Or, what safety equipment should be mandatory? The list goes on…
Examples abound across the country. We don’t know if buoyage and advisory signage in one location is making a positive contribution to the safety of the boating community, or whether it is all a waste of money. We just don’t know if the improvements in design and construction of boats, or the introduction of mandatory safety regulations are yielding the desired results.
Enter the National Marine Safety Committee. You will read elsewhere in this issue of the outstanding work being done by the NMSC aimed at developing nationally uniform marine safety practices, including the world-first National Boating Usage Study, which Club Marine is very pleased to be supporting.
NMSC’s target is to monitor the usage of over 4000 volunteer recreational boaties to develop an understanding of how, when, why, where and by whom boats are being used over the next 18 months. Results of the survey will then be compared with other available data to develop a clear picture of how best to allocate State and Federal funding to education, infrastructure and facilities projects in order to best meet the needs of the boating community, now and in the future.
I encourage all Club Marine members to take part in the survey, which will take no more than a couple of minutes after each trip in your boat. I am pleased to provide an incentive of $100.00 off your insurance premium, split over this year and next, to help motivate you to take part.
We will report on the interim and final findings of the National Boating Usage Survey and will actively engage with the NMSC to ensure that the interests of our members are well represented in any planned activity or new initiatives that arise from the findings.
Please join me and all the members of my team at Club Marine in taking part in this important study, which will benefit the entire boating community.
Publisher and CEO
Club Marine Limited