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Boating Season Means Boost in Accident, Injury Risks
Floridians spend lots of time on the water. The state's year-round warm climate means many days enjoyed aboard fishing or pleasure boats, particularly during the April-November boating season. But those days in the sun come with risks. In fact, Florida leads the nation in both the number of registered vessels, and the number of boating fatalities reported each year, boating accident attorneys in Orlando say.
If you're an avid boater, consider these statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC):
- 742 boating accidents, resulting in 431 injuries and 67 deaths, were reported in Florida in 2011;
- 94 percent of those fatal accidents involved typical pleasure boats measuring up to 21 feet long;
- 51 percent of boat operators involved in reported boating accidents lacked any formal boater education;
- Alcohol or drug use played a part in 15 percent of boating fatalities in Florida in 2011.
Many are unaware of a Florida law that requires boater education. Residents born after January 1, 1988 must complete a course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators before operating a vessel powered by a 10 horsepower or stronger motor. Boating operators also must carry their FFWCC-issued Boating Safety Education ID card at all times while on the water.
To avoid boating accidents, attorneys and safety officials offer these tips:
- Don't speed;
- Don't drink or do drugs while on the water;
- Limit the number of passengers and insist that all aboard wear life jackets;
- Follow all posted rules;
- Check weather forecasts and plan your boating excursion accordingly;
- Take a weather radio with you and remember that weather in Florida can change quickly;
- Study maps that pinpoint locations of dangerous underwater hazards.
Remember that even if you follow all the rules and exercise caution, others may not. If you or your dependents are injured in a boating accident, attorneys with Central Florida's Todd Copeland & Associates can help you secure fair compensation for your losses. Contact our Orlando office at 407-999-8995 or our Kissimmee office at 407-847-7277.