Cell phone usage “key factor” in fatal Washington D.C. duck boat accident

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that a tugboat operator was distracted while using his personal cell phone and a company laptop computer when the tugboat he was navigating crashed into and sank a duck tour boat on the Delaware River. Two people on the duck tour boat were killed in the boating accident and 26 other people were injured.

A NTSB Press Release cited the mate’s distraction as the key factor in the accident. The release said the mate was busy dealing with a “family emergency” instead of being in the upper wheel house and that his visibility of the channel was limited.

NTSB Chariman Deobrah A.P. Hersman said”

“This is yet another example of the deadliness of distractions. “Distraction is a safety concern across all modes of transportation.  Regardless of the reason, it’s not okay to multi-task while operating a vehicle – whether it’s calling, texting, or surfing the web.”

The boating accident occurred when the tugboat, the Caribbean Sea, was towing a barge and hit the duck tour boat. The duck boats are old World War II era amphibious landing craft which are operated by Ride the Ducks International.

The NTSB release also faulted Ride The Ducks International, LLC, for failing to take proper action to address “the risk of anchoring in an active navigation channel.” The duck boat had overheated and the vessel was anchored in an active navigation channel at the time of the accident.

This boating accident is but one of many motor vehicle accidents caused by using a cell phone or other communications device while driving. The NTSB estimates that 6,000 people died in 2008 alone in accidents where distracted driving was a factor.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.

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Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.