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Coast Guard checking for DUI in New Jersey pier ferry crash

The thought of a boating accident probably brings to mind mistakes made in summer by recreational boaters. Boating collisions seem like distant cousins to car accidents, but the two have similarities. Maritime rules do not apply to cars, but cars and boats are both motor vehicles driven by individuals responsible for the safety of passengers and other operators.

A November ferry collision at a New Jersey pier made national headlines. Seven people were hurt when a New York Waterway-operated ferry struck a Jersey City pier. Four people were hospitalized; all were treated for injuries and released.

The U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction over the water accident investigation. Just like traffic accidents on land, investigators must confirm whether a vehicle operator was a drunk driver or texting and driving. A trio of crew members responsible for the ferry's operation has cleared the first of two rounds of drug and alcohol tests.

Waterway authorities firmly believe the captain and deckhands were not intoxicated, preoccupied by cellphones or engaged with an unauthorized visitor when the accident took place. Twenty-seven passengers were on the Manhattan-to-New Jersey trip aboard the York, when its starboard bow crashed into the pier.

According to Waterway officials, 250 million people have been ferried around New York Harbor since the mid-1980s without a serious mishap.

Just like watercraft operators, car drivers must meet a standard of care for the safety of people and property around them. A motor vehicle operator must have the proper training and licensing and cannot engage in criminal or careless behaviors, without incurring serious penalties.

A trip to the hospital, even as a precautionary measure, can be costly. Victims of accidents caused by negligent vehicle operators are not responsible for the harm done to them. Civil courts agree that at-fault parties should compensate victims for financial losses including lost wages, plus pain and emotional injuries stemming from a preventable accident.


Source: 
nj.com, "Officials await final test results on cause of Jersey City ferry accident that injured seven" Felix Alarcon, Dec. 01, 2013

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