– By Michael Hancock
One of the many benefits of living in Florida is the miles of nearby ocean and ample opportunities to enjoy the water by going boating. Sometimes what is supposed to be a day of fun on the water turns tragic, however, when boaters get into accidents. Unfortunately, that happens more in Florida than in any other state in the country. In 2010, Florida boat accidents totaled 668. While that is an improvement from the high of 743 accidents in 2004, officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an organization that helps educate the public about boating safety, says that by following a few safety tips boaters can avoid common causes for boating accidents and keep themselves safe.
Common Causes for Florida Boat Accidents
One of the leading causes of boating accidents is people boating while drinking alcohol. In 2010, 330 of the boating accidents were alcohol-related and 126 people died and 300 people sustained serious injuries in those accidents. Alcohol consumption is not only dangerous for the operator of the watercraft; it can be hazardous for passengers, too. Intoxicated passengers run the risk of falling off the side of the boat and drowning.
Other common causes of boating accidents include:
- Operating the watercraft at excessive speed
- Reckless driving
- Operator inattention
- Operator inexperience
Tips for Safe Boating
Those going boating can follow a few simple safety precautions to prevent their day of fun on the water from turning into a tragedy:
- Do not consume alcohol and operate a boat
- Check the weather report before going out on the boat
- Stay alert at all times
- File a “float plan,” where someone on land knows where the boat is headed and when the boat is supposed to return so that individual can alert authorities if the boat does not return
- Make sure all passengers on the boat wear life jackets
- Carry a charged cell phone
- Ensure the VHF radio is operational
- Know and obey the rules of the water
- Make sure the boat is in good working condition
- Do not overload the boat with people or equipment
- Make sure the watercraft is equipped with working safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, visual distress signals and sound producing devices
Boating is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable, but sometimes people make poor choices and cause accidents. By taking a few simple precautions, however, more people can ensure that they do not turn their fun day into a boating accident statistic.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida boat accident, call injury attorney Mike Hancock at 813-915-1110 for a free consultation of your case. Our phones are answered 24/7.