Boating Safety and Expert Witness

Dr. Robert B. Kauffman

Boating safety is a thread that runs through most of the career of Dr. Kauffman. Teaching, creating new materials, developing new models, or conducting research are all contributions that he has made. If you click on the vita section, you will find that most of the activities involve some aspect of boating safety. Some of the highlights of his involvement in this area are listed below.

Dr. Kauffman negotiating Powerful Popper on the Upper Yough
Dr. Kauffman negotiating Powerful Popper on the Upper Yough.


River Safety Symposium. Conceptualized and organized the first River Safety Symposium that examined the large number of river fatalities that occurred during the 1970. The symposium was sponsored by the American Canoe Association, The American Red Cross and the Pennsylvania Fish Commission.

Accident Process Model. Conceptualized a model depicting the accident process that was used as a foundation for the film Cold, Wet and Alive and Beyond the Last Buoy.

Cold, Wet and Alive. The now classic hypothermia film was made in 1989 by Russ Nichols for the American Canoe Association. Obtained the grant, co-wrote the script, and did numerous other functions on the film. Earned a CINE Golden Eagle Award for the film. In a 2005 survey of boating education administration, it was still the number one boating safety video shown in the country.

Heads Up - River Rescue for River Runners. Obtained the grant and was project manager for this second ACA film on river rescue. Again, it was made by Russ Nichols. The film earned a CINE Golden Eagle Award. In addition, it resulted in the development of the Rescue Curve which in 2006 became a model used in a new outdoor leadership textbook.

Life Jackets Float, You Don't.
Obtained the grant and was project manager for this ACA film on life jackets. 2009.

Almost a Perfect Day.
Obtained the grant and was project manager for an eight minute video on the environmental stressors for the National Safe Boating Council. The film earned a CINE Golden Eagle Award. 2012.

River Canoeing and Canoe Camping Wallcharts. Conceptualized and designed two large boating safety wallcharts. The River Canoeing Wallchart won an international award.

Coastal Kayaking and River Kayaking Wallcharts. In 2005, provided the background information for two new scaled down versions of the wallcharts for the ACA.

BOD - American Canoe Association. From 1998 to 2006 served on the Board of Directors of the American Canoe Association. Served as Secretary of the Board for four of those years.

Instructor Trainer. Has been an Instructor Trainer Educator of canoeing, an Instructor Trainer in canoeing and rafting, and an Instructor in River Rescue. Most of these certifications are currently out-of-date.

Potomac River Study. Conducted a study of fatalities on the mainstem of the Potomac River and found that most fatalities occurred at moderate (the river is well within its banks) and not at flood or near flood levels. Most people perceive flood conditions as being dangerous. In addition, the study recommend a gauging system to warn river users. A product of this study was the development of the Drowning Trap. It found that most people were drowning at water levels that they didn't perceive as dangerous.
Potomac River Study (Part 1) Research content
Potomac River Study (Part 2) Site recommendations
Potomac River Study (Part 3) Site recommendations

Expert Witness. Served as an expert witness on over fourteen cases (see listing). Most of the cases involved rafting fatalities and injuries. At least one case went to trial.

Boating Fundamentals. Designed, researched and wrote book Boating Fundamentals - A manual of boating safety for the National Recreation and Parks Association in 1995. The book was innovative in that it utilized three elements: text, graphics, and cartoons.

Articles. Wrote numerous articles on boating safety (see Vita for a listing).

Risk Management Textbook. Wrote a textbook on risk management in the recreation and parks field.

Dr. Kauffman negotiating Bastard Rapids on the Upper Yough
Dr. Kauffman negotiating Bastard Rapids on the Upper Yough.

MY PHILOSOPHY - My "carrot" and "stick" approach

I have dedicated a good portion of my life to boating safety. I have attempted to educate people on how to do the right thing. I have created films, books, and educational materials. In addition, I have taught numerous courses on canoeing and river rescue. This is the "carrot" portion of my involvement in boating safety and boating education. On the other hand, some people and organizations need the "stick" or the threat of a lawsuit to help them do the right thing. I am happy to oblige them since sometimes the "stick" is a necessary alternative to the carrot. In summary, I hope that people do the right thing because it increases boating safety and reduces accidents. However, for those who don't take this approach, I am more than happy to assist in using the "stick" to help modify their behavior.... and yes, I have assisted the defense also.


Normally, I average one or two expert witness cases a year depending on the amount of time required in the case. Feel free to contact me regarding availability and interest. Email is usually the best way to contact me.

o: 301.687-4474
h: 301.689-8957
Dr. Kauffman surfing on his off-side the top hole in Ramcat Rapids on the Middle Yough
Dr. Kauffman surfing on his off-side the top hole in Ramcat Rapids on the Middle Yough.


Contact Dr. Kauffman

Dr. Robert B. Kauffman
Dr. Kauffman is a Professor of Recreation and Parks Management at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland 20534.


Sunset over the Everglades
Sunset over the Everglades.


Robert B. Kauffman
7 Hill Top Drive, Frostburg, MD 21532