Safety Tips for Avoiding Boating Accidents in Florida

10 Ways to be a Safer Boater

Florida leads the nation in the ownership of personal water vehicles, including motorboats and jet-skis with over 800,000 registered in 2014. It comes as no surprise, then, that Florida also leads the nation in the number of boating accidents. Of the 4064 boating accidents in 2014, over 14% occurred in Florida. Of those 14%, more than 1 in 10 included a fatality.

As more boats and jet-skis take to the waterways, there are a few things to keep in mind to keep you accident-free.

The Leading Cause of Boating Accidents Is Inattention

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re floating on the crystalline waters around the Florida peninsula or on the lovely rivers and waterways throughout the state. Unfortunately, distraction can be dangerous.

According to the 2014 United States Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s Recreational Boating Statistics report, there are five primary types of accidents. The most common is caused by driver inattention.

Whether the driver leaves their post or is occupied in another activity, one moment of distraction can have deadly consequences. If you are driving a boat, it is important to understand your responsibility and keep your passengers safe. Paying attention to hazards like marine life, rocks, and other vehicles can minimize your accident risk. Make sure to check weather conditions before any trip and if you are taking a new or unfamiliar route, check for any problem spots.

Boats Are Vehicles and are Bound by Similar Traffic Laws

Even on the water you can’t escape speed limits!

Florida waterways are home to some amazing creatures. In order to protect them, some waterways feature protect zones with speed limits or areas that should not be accessed with particular water vehicles. To protect the diverse Florida habitat, it is important to abide by these laws. It can also keep you safe!

Some waterways may also feature areas with directional traffic, allowing boats and other vehicles to only go one way. It’s important to know the area you’ll be boating in so you can easily and safely maneuver your vehicle.

Like car headlights, boats are required to have certain lights. There are also restrictions on who can use a personal watercraft (jet ski) as well as life vest use. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, 70% of Florida boating deaths in 2014 were due to drowning so before taking the family out, make sure you all have the appropriate life vests and understand the rules of the waterway.

Boats and Drinking Don’t Mix

Just like with cars and motorcycles, driving a boat and drinking don’t mix. In fact, it’s the law. A boat operator cannot have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher—the same measurement for drivers of other vehicles.

On the water, drinking can slow your reaction time. If you need to maneuver or swim, drinking may impair your ability to do so safely.

Boating Accident? Speak With a Boating Accident Attorney

Boating is a popular pastime in the gorgeous Florida weather. While there are a few things operators can do to avoid accidents, sometimes the worst is unavoidable. If you have suffered injuries because of a boating accident, it is important to speak with a Tampa personal injury attorney.

If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have legal recourse. A Tampa personal injury attorney can help ensure your medical bills are taken care of, as well as any necessary future care. With a thorough knowledge of Florida boating law and boating accidents, a Tampa personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a case and how you should move forward. Because of the statute of limitations, however, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.