Floridians and those visiting the state love to cool down with a day on the water. In fact, with over 950,000 registered vessels, Florida is the boating capital of the U.S.
New data shows that the number of boating accidents in Florida waters fell 18 percent from 2018 to 2017, but they were still the highest in the country. Most boating accidents are preventable, and talking safety precautions could save your life.
Boating accidents by the numbers
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 628 boating accidents in 2018 led to 59 fatalities and 307 injuries. That number is down from 2017 when there were 67 fatalities and 723 accidents.
Florida leads the country in the number of boating accidents each year, sometimes more than doubling the number of accidents in California, the next closest state.
The most common injury in boating accidents last year was cuts, followed by bruises, fractures and head injuries. Sixty-five percent of people injured were not wearing life jackets, and 27 percent could not swim.
Of the 2018 fatalities, 32 percent were due to people falling overboard – the most common cause of death. Collisions with fixed objects, like docks or buoys, was the next leading cause of death, followed by flooding, collisions with other boats and capsizing.
Inattentiveness was the leading factor that contributed to accidents, while excessive speed and alcohol use were other common factors.
Though accidents on the water can happen to anyone regardless of their experience level, following these guidelines could keep you and your passengers much safer.
- Never drink alcoholic beverages while operating a boat
- Stay alert and have a passenger act as a second set of eyes
- Leave your boating plans with someone ashore
- Take a marine radio
- Wear a life jacket
- Have a signaling device on board