Statistics released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) indicated there were 671 recreational boating accidents in Florida in 2015, putting the state far ahead of the rest of the country. For reference, California was next with 369, followed by New York with 175 and Texas with 154.
Florida also led the nation in boating fatalities with 52, ahead of 48 in California and 44 in Texas. Of these fatalities, 60 percent were a result of drowning, while 82 percent were not wearing a floatation device. Alcohol and/or drug use was a factor in eight of the 52 deaths.
A growing trend
Florida has more registered boats than any other state (931,450 as of the publication of this article), so it is understandable that it would have more boating accidents than any other state. However, state officials are concerned about the increasing trend of accidents and believe more can be done to prevent serious accidents, injuries and deaths.
Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard indicate that nationwide fatalities totaled 701 in 2016, which was the highest rate in the last five years. Deaths increased by 12 percent over the previous year, with injuries increasing by 11.1 percent and total accidents increasing by 7.3 percent. Florida accounted for 70 of the deaths in 2016, representing a large increase from the 52 the FWCC reported in 2015. Common causes of accidents included lockouts, excessive speed and inexperience.
Law enforcement and public safety officials say that one action Florida boaters can take to cut down on accident frequency is to limit distractions. People operating boats are often distracted by their phones, GPS devices or talking with passenger. Boaters should also be sure to avoid excessive speeds and only operate the vehicle if properly trained and licensed to do so.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a serious boating accident, consult a skilled Bradenton personal injury lawyer with Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.