As the temperatures and dew points start to increase there is no better place to spend the day than on the water. Along the Northwest Florida coast we are blessed to have plenty of boating opportunities from fishing to water skiing.
With Florida’s ocean coastlines, it is hardly surprising that the state ranks first in number of registered boats (870,749) or boating accidents (737 in 2015). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) provides yearly statistics on boating incidents across the state.
The number of boating accidents increased from 2014, but fatalities decreased. Overall, Okaloosa County ranked toward the top of the list at 12th out of 67 counties for boating incidents.
Prevention: Pay closer attention and wear a life jacket
As summer kicks into full swing, National Safe Boating week is already in the rear view mirror. It was an opportunity for FWC to share statistics from last year and offer advice for preventing accidents this summer.
Last year, there were 438 injuries across the state. Some of these could have been prevented if boat operators had paid better attention to what was going on around their vessel. Almost half of the 2015 boating accidents were collisions. More than 30 percent were caused by inattention or operators failing to properly keep a look-out for others.
The other simple tip is to wear a life jacket. A 2014 Coast Guard publication ranked life jacket use by cause of death. In drowning deaths, 337 of 418 victims were not wearing life jackets. In Florida, 55 people died in boating accidents in 2015 (87 percent weren’t wearing a life jacket). Falling overboard continues to be the leading cause of death. Similar to seat belt use, life jackets are known to save lives.
An app for everything
A safe boating class can help newer boaters avoid accidents. Technology offers another option. The U.S. Coast Guard has a mobile app that helps boaters:
- Find safety regs and navigation rules
- Check safety equipment and request vessel safety checks
- Report suspicious activity such as drunken boating
- Request emergency help.
Injuries sustained in boating accidents can easily be serious. Being struck by a motorboat or ejected from a vessel can even lead to death. Inattention, excessive speed, and recklessness are ranked as some of the top causes of these accidents.
If the negligence of another boater causes a serious injury or the tragic death of a loved one, contact our father-son team of personal injury attorneys at Brannon & Brannon. We will complete an independent investigation and fight to ensure you receive maximum compensation.