Between our hundreds of annual days of sunshine and more than 1,100 miles of beautiful coastline, boating is one of the most popular pastimes in the state of Florida. While this activity is enjoyed by millions of people every year, Florida also holds a reputation as the annual leader in boating accidents and boat accident injuries.
What makes our state such a hotspot for these accidents and the serious injuries they can cause? There are lots of different reasons, and knowing what they are can help you improve your own watercraft safety and avoid a potentially catastrophic accident or injury. Here are six of the top causes for boating accidents in the Sunshine State.
Boaters are required to keep an eye out for any obstacles that may be on the water with them, including other craft, docks, piers, animals, swimmers, or natural land formations. Failing to notice one of these obstacles could result in a serious accident, particularly if a craft is traveling at speed. The risk is also even greater for larger watercraft which the operator may not be able to fully see the surroundings of. Ideally, all boaters should have a passenger serve as a second lookout and alert the operator to any possible obstacles to avoid.
On roads, we have speed limits to govern how quickly cars can drive in order to ensure the road stays safe for everyone. On water, we have similar speed limits in certain areas, such as near harbors or docking points where craft concentrations may be high or there could be swimmers in the water as well. Speeding through these areas not only puts you at a tremendously higher risk of a crash, but puts everyone else on the water with you at a greater risk as well.
Boats need to be properly maintained to ensure safe operation, including regular motor maintenance and inspections of the entire hull to ensure it’s structurally sound. A boat that’s not properly maintained not only places you at the risk of getting stranded out on the water but increases the chances that you might lose control and crash, or potentially be crashed into by another boater.
Did you know that there is such a thing as a “boating under the influence” charge, or BUI? Not only can this practice land you in jail and subject you to major fines like you would receive if you were driving your car, but it also exponentially increases the chances of being involved in a serious boating accident. According to the American Boating Association, intoxicated boat operators are the leading cause of fatal boating accidents, and they’re remarkably easy to fall victim to. It’s a popular practice to take an ice chest out on the ocean or to a lake to enjoy the warm weather and swim with a few drinks, but make sure you consciously monitor your alcohol intake if you need to guide the boat back to the dock.
Operating a boat isn’t difficult, but doing so safely can require instruction, practice, and hours of experience. According to the ABA, 71 percent of all fatal boating accidents involve a driver that has received zero safety instruction or formal training. These drivers are often distracted by the experience or can panic in the event of an emergency, leading to serious crashes and injuries.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a boating incident, call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 for a case evaluation today!