Vessel operators need to be aware of their surroundings and the other boats and vessels present at any given time. According to Louisiana Revised Statutes Tit. 34, § 851.4, if an operator fails to fully comprehend the course of an approaching vessel, they must slow down immediately to a speed barely sufficient for steerageway, so as to be able to stop if necessary. Additionally, vessel operators should reduce speed when approaching other vessels in order to ensure safe navigation and reduce the risk of collisions.
When operating a vessel in heavy traffic, operators must also reduce speed or stop entirely. This is necessary in order to give other vessels enough space to move safely and without interference. In many cases, heavy traffic could lead to a situation where multiple vessels are located in the same area, moving in different directions and at different speeds. In these cases, it is important to reduce speed in order to increase chances of avoiding a collision.
Additionally, operators should reduce speed to ensure safe navigation in all circumstances. Even when the traffic is light, operators should still reduce speed as necessary. This includes if the operator encounters a smaller vessel, bad weather, or any other situation that could lead to an accident.
Vessel operators are responsible for their own safety and the safety of those around them. By reducing speed when approaching the situations and conditions listed above, they can significantly reduce the chances of a collision or other accident. The operator should also remember to comply with all navigation rules and restrictions set forth by the local authorities.