The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that Florida has surpassed one million registered recreational boats. The top four counties, in order from most to least, are Miami-Dade with 74,622, Pinellas County with 53,867, Lee County with 50,304, and Broward County with 47,741. Two of the counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, are in close proximity to each other, making the total number of registered recreational boats in South Florida over 122 thousand.
As reported by Florida Trend, the Commission would like to emphasize the importance of water safety now that the boating registrations have topped one million. “With more boats on the water, we want to spread the word about boating safety to both residents and visitors enjoying Florida’s year-round boating season,” said Major Rob Beaton.
In 2021 alone, there were 469 reported injuries due to boating accidents, of which 60 resulted in death, as reported by the Florida Wildlife Commission’s 2021 Boating Accident Statistical Report. The most common cause of boating accidents was stated to be an operator’s inattention or their failure to maintain a proper lookout, making up 44% of all boating accidents reported in 2020. Additionally, Florida was the top-ranked state for boating deaths and boating accidents in the United States in 2019. These numbers are only expected to increase now that the state has over 1 million registered watercrafts, many of which are condensed into two neighboring counties.
Tips For Staying Safe On The Water
As the weather heats up and we prepare for the Memorial Day holiday when many boaters take to the water, each boat’s operator needs to follow safety precautions to prevent a possible injury or tragedy. The following are a few boating safety reminders:
- Complete a Boating Safety Course: 70% of boating accident deaths occurred on boats where the operator had no safety instruction. Find a list of both paid and free boating safety courses at USCG Boating.
- Refrain From Drinking Alcohol: Alcohol is the key contributing factor in boating accidents deaths where the primary cause is known. Designate a sober boating captain before heading out on the water.
- Wear A Life Jacket: Florida law requires that all watercrafts must carry one USCG–approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. Yet, life jackets do not work unless every person on board is wearing one. According to USCG boating statistics for 2019, 79 percent of boating deaths were due to drowning, and 86 percent of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.
- Use Engine Cut-Off Devices: An engine cut-off device, or engine kill switch, will shut down propulsion machinery when a boat’s operator is not at the helm. A boat operator may also employ a wearable engine kill switch device as an additional security measure.
- Follow the Weather: The weather in Florida is unpredictable and often changes quickly. A boat operator should always check the weather forecast before departing and check weather reports frequently while onboard.
Speak to a Boating Attorney
If we all do our part to make safety a priority while boating, we can help keep our friends, family, and neighbors out of danger.
The team at Panter, Panter & Sampedro is here to help when you or a loved one is involved in a boating accident that is due to the negligence of another. Call and speak to an experienced boating attorney at (305) 662-6178.