Perhaps unsurprisingly, Florida is home to the most boating accidents in the country every year — by a long shot. In 2017 alone, Florida boaters were involved in 723 accidents with a total of 60 lives lost. The nearest state, California, reported less than half that number of boating accidents for the same year, despite the fact that California has nearly double the population of Florida.
Also surprising is that roughly two-thirds of boating operators involved in deadly accidents have had little to no preparation or training for driving a boat.
“For 2017, the leading contributor to boating accidents was the operator’s inattention or failure to maintain a proper lookout. It is critical for operators to be diligent in observing and being aware of what is going on around them,” said Lt. Seth Wagner from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Boating and Waterways Section.
We don’t blame you for wanting to get outside and enjoy the many beautiful lakes, springs, coasts and waterways in the Sunshine State, but all Florida boaters should be sure to stay safe.
Here are five actionable tips on how to help keep Florida waters safe for everyone while also enjoying your boat:
1. Stay sober
Just as you shouldn’t drive while drunk, you definitely shouldn’t operate a boat while intoxicated. In case you didn’t know, it’s actually illegal. Having a designated boat operator will allow you avoid boating wrecks caused by intoxicated driving.
2. Monitor the weather
Check weather forecasts regularly throughout the day to give you plenty of time to get off of the water in case of a storm.
3. Maintain safety equipment
Be sure to keep important safety equipment on board at all times including life vests, other flotation devices, lights, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, an anchor and other important items. An estimated 81 percent of people killed in a boating accident in 2017 weren’t wearing a life jacket. Nowadays, you can choose from several models of light and comfortable inflatable belt-packs or over-the-shoulder life jackets, so there’s no excuse. Life jackets save lives — period.
4. Get trained
While formal boating training isn’t required by Florida law, taking an accredited boating course can help you be prepared in the case of many emergencies. In fact, only a small percentage of fatal boating accidents took place on boats that had an accredited boater on board.
5. Don’t speed
Speeding is an easy way to lose control of your boat. Stay within certain safe speed limits to allow you time to make split decisions in case of an emergency situation.
Don’t go Titanic. Keep your family, friends and yourself safe by following these simple tips.
Just as with motor vehicle accidents, you have the right to compensation if you’re injured in a boating accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If you’ve found yourself the victim of a Florida boating accident, contact our Tampa attorneys for a free consultation.