With more than 1,100 miles of coastline, Florida is second only to Alaska when it comes to shoreline. This bounty of sand and water means Florida is also home to thousands of boaters.
When most people think of transportation accidents, car accidents are the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, boating accidents can be just as dangerous and deadly.
Furthermore, many of the negligent behaviors that cause car accidents also cause boating accidents. People can get seriously injured when vessels collide with other vessels or jet skis.
In other cases, boats cause catastrophic injuries and deaths when they strike swimmers or people on the shore.
If you have been injured in an accident on the water, you need the help of a Boca Raton boat accident lawyer.
Most Boat Crash Caused by Inexperienced Drivers
According to the American Boating Association (ABA), there were 626 fatal boating accidents in 2015. The same year, another 2,613 people were injured in boat crash in Florida.
These numbers are likely much higher, as the figures represent only reported boating accidents. Because some boating accidents go unreported, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many collisions occur each year.
The ABA also lists the top causes of reported boat accidents:
1. Inexperienced drivers: In cases where the driver’s level of experience was known, 71 percent of fatal boating accidents involved a driver with no boating safety instruction.
2. BUI: Under Florida law, boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense that carries harsh penalties. A first-time BUI conviction can result in fines, a permanent criminal record, and even jail time.
Florida police actively patrol beaches for intoxicated drivers. As with motor vehicles, the legal blood alcohol concentration in Florida for boat operators is .08 percent.
According to the ABA, alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boat accidents. When you’re on the water during a hot day, it’s sometimes easy to overlook just how much you have had to drink.
Sweltering temperatures can lead to dehydration, which intensifies the effects of alcohol. This is why it’s so important to keep track of how much alcohol you have consumed on the water and to avoid alcohol completely if you are driving any kind of watercraft.
3. Driver distractions: When you’re having fun on the water, it’s tempting to text a friend or share photos with followers on social media. Distractions like texting, email, and even talking to passengers can lead to serious accidents.
4. Defective equipment: Whether you boat year-round, or you only take your boat out during certain times of the year, it’s important to perform routine maintenance on your vessel.
5. Excessive speed: Florida imposes boating speed restrictions around much of its coastline. These low speed zones and no wake zones are primarily designed to protect vulnerable wildlife populations, such as manatees. When boaters drive dangerously fast, they endanger both animals and people in the water.
6. Improper lookout: Boaters are responsible for constantly scanning their surroundings to make sure there is nothing impeding their course.
Besides practicing this constant vigilance, boaters should also post another person to serve as a second lookout. Any time the boat is in motion, the boater and the lookout should be paying attention to the bow, port, and starboard sides of the vessel.
Florida Boating Operator Requirements
If you plan on boating this summer, make sure you have complied with all the requirements for boating under state law. In Florida, there are strict requirements for operating a boat lawfully.
- Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 must obtain a Boating Safety Education ID Card before operating a vessel.
- Boaters required to obtain a Boating Safety Education ID Card must take a course about boating safety. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains a list of approved courses on its website. Boaters can also complete their education requirement via correspondence course.
- Boaters in Florida must be at least 14 years old.
Call a Boca Raton Boating Accident Lawyer about Your Case
If you have been injured in a boating accident, you may be wondering what to do next. Make no mistake: boating accident injuries can be just as catastrophic as car accident injuries. Don’t wait to speak to a Boca Raton boat crash lawyer about your case.
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