Florida is a boater’s haven, surrounded by sparkling seas, filled with lakes inviting recreation, and blessed with year-round near-perfect boating weather. Thus, though it may not surprise many that Florida leads the nation in boating accidents and related deaths, this statistic may prompt some boaters to exercise greater caution.
An article featured last month by local PBS affiliate WUFT states that in 2014, Floridians reported 577 boating accidents and 67 boating accident deaths. This is nearly three times the number of boat accidents reported by New York residents, and the state with the next highest rate of boat-related deaths was Texas, which reported 39 fatalities. These numbers were taken from a report created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety.
According to officer Brad Stanley of the North Central Region of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the higher rate of boat accidents in Florida may be largely attributed to the high number of vessels registered in this state—2-14 saw 899,635 boats registered here. Says Stanley, “The more boats you have on the water, the more chances you have for an accident.”
However, it may surprise some locals to learn that this high number of reported boat accidents is actually presumed to be far lower than the actual number of boat crashes in Florida. Per federal laws, boaters only need to report accidents that lead to an injury which requires more attention than first aid, a death, a disappearance, or damage to a boat totaling more than $2,000.
According to the Coast Guard, the top causes of boat accidents in Florida in 2014 were:
• Failure to pay attention
• Inexperienced boaters
• Distracted boaters
Though only boaters born after Jan. 1, 1988 are required to take a safety course before obtaining a boater’s safety education card required to legally drive a boat, most experts agree that it is wise for all people who intend to operate a boat to fully educate themselves about safe boating practices. Additionally, many tourists who visit Florida with the intention of operating a boat or personal watercraft are not properly educated on boat safety and may pose a risk to others.
Even 577 boating accidents in Florida in one recent year are too many, and the truth is that there were likely many, many more accidents that went unreported. When boating safety rules are not followed, innocent passengers may be seriously injured or even killed. As experienced boat accident lawyers serving Florida, we know that a fun day on the water can turn tragic in mere moments, and we defend the rights of injured boaters and passengers in the pursuit of justice. For more information on boat accident lawsuits, please contact us today.