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What Can I Do to Avoid Being Involved in a Boating Accident?
One of the reasons why Florida is such a popular place to live and visit is because of its proximity to water. Whether you prefer the ocean, rivers, or lakes, Florida has them all in abundance. It is no wonder that Florida is the state with the highest number of boats and marine vessels registered in the whole country!
Unfortunately, just as Florida has the highest number of boats, it also has the highest boat accident rates in the country. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were 836 boating accidents in 2020 alone. This number represents a 16% increase in cases from 2019.
With an increasing number of accidents, it is more important than ever that boaters take care to operate their boats safely. Here are some tips to follow in order to avoid being involved in a boating accident:
According to the FWC, driver inattention was the number one cause of all personal watercraft accidents in 2020.
In fact, Lt. Seth Wagner, FWC Boating and Waterways Section says, “Many operators believe they are looking around but they are not recognizing potential hazards or are distracted by dividing their attention between things like electronic devices or other occupants in the boat.” Almost half of the 836 watercraft accidents in 2020 were collisions, and almost half of those collisions (44%) were caused by operator inattention.
When operating a boat, make sure to always have your eyes on the water, and make sure to focus on maintaining safe navigation around possible hazards. There are many potential distractions while on the water, such as your passengers or electronic devices, so it is imperative that you keep your attention on the movements of your boat, the water, surrounding or submerged objects, the weather, and other watercraft in your vicinity.
Almost one-quarter of all deaths from boating accidents in Florida in 2020 listed intoxication as a factor. Nationally, the Coast Guard cites alcohol as the leading cause of boating accident deaths.
Though in some places you feel you can safely enjoy alcohol while boating responsibly, it is important to remember that being out in the hot sun can exacerbate the effects of alcohol on your body and mind, and it is easy to be more intoxicated than you realize. Further, it is against the law in Florida to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It’s also important to note that even if you aren’t planning on operating a boat, being around water is made more dangerous when you are intoxicated. Not only are you more at risk for being injured, but you are also putting others around you in danger, as your reflexes are slowed, and your physical ability is impaired. That means you will be more difficult to recover should you go overboard, and you will be less of assistance to others in the event of an emergency. In order to reduce the chance of an accident, it may be best to leave the alcohol at home, to be consumed when you no longer plan to be out on the water.
When boating, it is essential that you have the necessary safety equipment with you before heading out on the water. Most importantly, there should be life vests and floatation devices for everyone on board. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 90% of Americans who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing life jackets when the incident occurred. Life vests should be provided by the boat owner to every passenger on their boat, every time. Since accidents are not predictable, boat passengers should wear them whenever they are on the water.
Additionally, boat owners should have first aid kits, a fire extinguisher, boat lights, and an anchor aboard every vessel. By being prepared with necessary supplies, the likelihood of death due to accidents can decrease substantially.
Be Weather Aware
Florida is known for its tropical climate, and while that may be drawn to many visitors, it also means that weather conditions can be temperamental. Before leaving shore, you should always check weather conditions. When you’re out on the water, be mindful of conditions. If you notice signs that the weather is turning, such as increased winds, choppy water, or the sky darkening, you should head back as quickly as you are able. Strong weather not only makes it harder to navigate but also increases the risk of capsizing or striking submerged debris.
Just as when you are driving a car, it is important to maintain enough distance between your boat and other people around you. While on the water, it is important to watch out for swimmers, non-motorized boats, and small and large watercraft. It is also important to maintain a safe speed. On the water, there are no lanes, and boats and swimmers may not always move in predictable ways. In light of that fact, it is important to maintain a safe speed so that you have the time you need to react in order to avoid an accident.
Human error is the top cause of all boating accidents. While you are not required to obtain a special license to operate a motorcraft, it is imperative that you know how your motorcraft works and how to implement proper safety techniques.
Taking an accredited boat safety course can lessen the chances of an accident significantly. According to the Coast Guard, about 90% of boating accident deaths involved an uninformed boat operator, while only 7% of boating fatalities occurred when the boat was operated by someone who went through a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)-accredited boater safety course.
If You Are Involved in a Boating Accident, Call an Experienced Boating Accident Attorney in Florida
No matter how safe you are, sometimes accidents happen. If you or a loved one have been involved with a boating accident in Florida, reach out to an experienced attorney from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd. For over 35 years, we have worked to help those who have been seriously injured recover their losses. If you’ve been hurt by a boating accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can trust us to work hard to get you the compensation you need to begin rebuilding your life.
To schedule your free case review, call (866) 460-1990 or contact us online today. When you schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys, you can expect to get specific and personalized advice about your specific case and injuries.
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