Ferry Travel: Staying Safe on the Water

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Many cities and towns use ferries for every day transportation. Ferries allow us to move across rivers and other waterways. If you followed the news during the spring of 2014, you might have been captivated, or scared, about reports of deadly ferry accidents overseas.

News reports stated rescue workers in Bangladesh completed the search for a stricken river ferry that brought the total of bodies recovered to 54; just two days after the boat capsized with about 200 passengers on board. Sadly, the boat only had capacity for 122 passengers. In another story, a ferry accident in South Korea killed about 300 people, when it sank en route to the resort island of Jeju. Most of the passengers were high school students attending a field trip. A ferry in Staten Island, N.Y., with a history of accidents malfunctioned as it neared the terminal in May 2010. The ferry smashed into a pier with a jolt that tossed passengers to the deck, injuring as many as 37 people. A New York City Department of Transportation commissioner blamed the accident on mechanical failure.

Like other accidents involving transportation, ferry accidents undergo investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board. You can follow reports on the investigations by reading newspapers and watching television news, and consulting NTSB’s website at ntsb.gov.

Americans use ferries for business (commuting) and pleasure (travel and sightseeing). Sightseeing ferries include ones that take passengers from Boston to Salem on the East Coast and from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, on the West Coast. It is unlikely that ferry travel will become obsolete. Taking proper precautions becomes mandatory.

Before boarding a ferry, you might want to check the company’s safety record. Ask how many years of experience the captains have, and whether or not the ferry supplies lifeboats and other rescue equipment. Is the ferry in top running condition? Once on a ferry, you will be putting your life in the hands of the captain and crew. But if the ferry sinks or capsizes, you can take measures to survive the ordeal. Tips include:

  • Listening to the evacuation signal which includes: seven short blasts followed by a long one.
  • Putting on a personal flotation device.
  • Following directions from the captain and crew.
  • Staying calm.
  • Expecting some harsh realities, such as exposure to hypothermia if you are in cold water.

You want your experience in a ferry to be enjoyable. If you or someone you know has been injured or died as a result of a ferry accident, seeking the advice of a personal injury attorney in Manhattan will help you settle your case quickly and effectively.