Robson Forensic Experts to Present Study Findings at the 2012 SNAME International Marine ...
Visibility Factors in Small Boat Collisions

Robson Forensic Experts to Present Study Findings at the 2012 SNAME International Marine Forensics Symposium

Experts: Bartley J. Eckhardt, P.E.; William J. Vigilante, Jr., Ph.D. & Peter F. Coste, P.E., C.F.E.I.

Contact: Kathleen Herman

About the Study:

March 8, 2012 (MMD Newswire) -- Collisions between powered and non-powered personal watercraft (PWC) and sail or powered craft (SPC) are a serious concern for professional mariners and recreational boaters alike. USCG statistics show that in recent years, collisions with a recreational vessel have consistently ranked as the leading primary marine accident type. Operator inattention and improper lookout are leading primary contributing factors to marine accidents.

Human factors considerations including the visibility, conspicuity, detection and identification of non-powered PWC weigh heavily in marine accident investigations and forensic analysis of collisions.

Oftentimes, seconds or less in power craft response can make the difference between a catastrophic collision and a harrowing but harmless near miss. For the operator of an SPC to take evasive action to avoid a collision, they must first detect and then identify the presence of the PWC. Visual detection and identification distance is critical in providing the SPC operator with sufficient time and distance to alter their course or take appropriate emergency action to avoid colliding with a PWC.

The study revealed several findings, including that:

1. Identification distance is enhanced when the very small craft is viewed against a shore background and when wearing fluorescent attire.

2. There are Zones of Vulnerability that prudent operation of very small craft and power and sail craft must be aware of and avoid.

3. Twenty recommendations are made with regard to boater safety and education to help commercial and recreational mariners avoid collisions with very small craft.

About the Symposium:

This three-day symposium (April 3-5) brings marine professionals and historians together in National Harbor, Maryland to exchange information on historic marine losses, on marine forensic investigation processes and tools, and on case studies where causes of failures and losses have been determined or are under continued study. The Symposium is jointly sponsored by The Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SNAME), The American Society of Naval Architects, and the Marine Technology Society.

About Robson Forensic:

Robson Forensic is an integrated team of forensic engineers, architects, scientists and fire investigators. We are a national firm with 16 offices and 175 experts who provide high quality investigations, reports and testimony to assist in the resolution of disputes and litigation. Since 1987 we have performed over 40,000 investigations.

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