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Florida Leads the Nation in Boating Accidents

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Posted on August 28, 2013

With weather that allows for boating year-round, it may come as no surprise that Florida continues to lead the nation in boating accidents.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting conducted a study on this unfortunate ranking that the Sunshine State has held consistently for several years. The article focuses on a father’s tragic drowning while on a fishing trip with a friend and his son. The father, Kenneth Williams, was one of 67 people killed on Florida’s waterways in 2011, according to FCIR’s analysis. The nonprofit investigative journalism organization also points out that lax regulations and industry pressure are part of the problem.

Statewide Boating Statistics

There were 704 reportable boating-related accidents resulting in 386 injuries and 55 fatalities in 2012, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s latest annual report. This was a decrease from 742 reportable boating accidents resulting in 431 injuries and 67 fatalities the previous year.

Boating accidents must meet at least one of the six criteria to be classified as reportable:

  • A fatality occurs
  • A person disappears under circumstances that indicate possible death or injury
  • A person receives an injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid
  • There is at least $2,000 aggregate property damage to the vessel(s) or other property
  • There is a total loss of a vessel

Alcohol or drug-use was a primary cause of boating accidents and accounted for 11 percent of boating fatalities in 2012. A few other primary causes of boating accidents that year were:

  • Improper lookout
  • Machinery failure
  • Careless/inattention

With the preceding causes in mind, boaters are always urged not to drink and drive, to be alert at all times, and to always wear a life jacket. These messages are important not only from a safety perspective, but also from a legal one. Under Florida law, §327.352, it’s illegal to operate a boat while impaired or intoxicated. Also, under §327.50, it’s illegal to operate a boat in Florida unless every person under age 6 is wearing a life jacket. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident because the operator was being careless or not paying attention you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.

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