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Avoiding Boating Accidents This Summer

As the Florida heat rises, more residents plan to have summer fun on their boats. Boating can be relaxing and exciting, but it can also be dangerous. It is easy to become lax about safety when you are on the water. This, however, is a poor choice. Everyone on board should be continuously aware of their surroundings and potential dangers.

Florida’s 2020 Boating Accident Statistics

The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission has released its 2020 Boating Accident Statistical Report. This is a highly detailed report that the Commission releases annually. Inside, you will find statistics for all manner of boating-related matters. It covers everything from accidents to the number of people who obtained a license that year.

Here are some facts that stand out in the 2020 report:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow boating activity in 2020. Florida’s number of boating accidents hit a nine-year high last year.
  • The most common boating accident was colliding with another watercraft.
  • The month of May saw the highest number of accidents during the year. There were 120 reported boating accidents during this month.
  • There was a total of 836 reported boating accidents in 2020. A total of 534 people were injured.
  • There was a total of 77 fatal boating accidents, with a total of 79 deaths.
  • Of these fatal accidents, 36 deaths (46%) were the result of someone going overboard. This is the leading type of boating fatality.
  • The leading cause of death was drowning. 2020 saw 42 drowning deaths, which is 53% of the total fatalities.
  • The vehicles with the most instances of accidents were open motorboats. A total of 503 accidents involved this watercraft, which is 60% of the total boating accidents.
  • Monroe County saw the highest number of boating accidents. A total of 99 accidents occurred there, leaving 9 dead and 52 injured.
  • Alcohol and drug use was involved in 23% of all fatalities.
  • Of all the fatal accidents, a massive 69% involved operators with no formal boating education.

What We Learn from These Facts

Using the above statistics, here are some helpful tips to stay safe while boating this year.

Experience Matters

At least 69% of all boating accident deaths involved an inexperienced operator. Do not allow an untrained person to operate a watercraft. People often take the open water for granted. They allow their friends to operate their watercraft just for fun. As we can see, this practice is just as dangerous as allowing an inexperienced driver to operate a car.

Sobriety Is Important

Staying sober on the water is as important as staying sober on the road. Impairment was cited in 23% of boating fatalities in 2020. Never assume that a boat, because it is on the water, is inherently safer than a road vehicle. People often drink on their boats. This is why you should have a designated, qualified, sober operator on your watercraft at all times.

Stay Cautious During Peak Hours

The largest number of boating accidents happened in May. People tend to take to the water at similar times. Certain months or times of day are more alluring. If you think it is a good day to go boating, you are likely not alone. Many people will have that same idea. When you see may people out on the water, stay vigilant.

Always Wear a Lifejacket

Tragically, there were 52 drowning deaths last year, which was 53% of all boating fatalities. Life jackets should be worn by everyone, especially inexperienced swimmers. People often worry that this protective gear is cumbersome and uncomfortable. That may be true for some, but staying safe is better than becoming part of a sad statistic.

Take Extra Care on Open Motorboats

Open motorboats saw the most accidents in 2020. These are fast, powerful machines, and people find them thrilling. Going fast may seem fun, but it can be deadly. Make sure your operator can handle the boat properly, and stay alert for hazards and choppy waters.

What To Do in a Boating Accident

The steps you must take in an accident are similar to those you would take in a highway accident.

Get Everyone to Safety

Vehicle accidents in open water have inherent dangers. You must avoid falling overboard while getting everyone to safety. Similarly, you must work to pull capsized people on board watercraft.

Once everyone is safe, drop your anchor. Now, you must tend to the wounded. Your watercraft should have a first aid kit on board. Stop any bleeding, and nurse all cuts. If someone is seriously injured, do not move them. Doing so could cause more harm. Help anyone that may be on board another craft as well.

Call for Help

Next, you should call emergency services. Pay close attention to your location, checking for any unique landmarks that can help services find you. You should get a response from the Coast Guard, fire department, or marine police. Calling 911 is an option, but you might have bad reception on the water. If you cannot make a phone call, use an emergency channel on your radio. Using your radio could have an added benefit. Nearby boats could hear you. They may be able to come help.

Exchange Information

Exchange information with all parties involved. All persons should exchange names and numbers, along with insurance information. Get the makes and models of all craft, including registration numbers. If there were witnesses to the accident, gather their information as well. Take pictures. Record all damage to all craft. Include images of any property damage.

Call Your Insurance Company

One you have been treated for your injuries and are safe at home, call your insurance company. Give them all relevant documentation, information, and pictures.

Call a Lawyer

Speak to an attorney about your accident. They can closely monitor your case, making sure that insurance pays your benefits appropriately. If insurance does not cover all your injury bills, it may be necessary to take the matter to civil court. Your lawyer, having worked on your case from the beginning, will be familiar with your situation. This can help them prepare to argue for you.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, reach out to our firm today. We can offer you a free, initial consultation. Just call (850) 764-0383, or contact us online.

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