Florida reports more boating accidents than any other state, and more boating fatalities annually than California and Texas combined, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report shows.
Springtime means more boaters on Florida’s waterways. Unfortunately, it also means a rise in boating-related injuries and fatalities, say boating accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
Boating is a popular pastime in Northeast Florida. The St. Johns River, the Atlantic Ocean and multiple lakes and creeks make for plenty of boating options. In fact, Florida leads the nation in the number of registered vessels – nearly 1 million. Sadly, the Sunshine State also leads the nation in the number of boating fatalities annually. Consider these statistics from 2011, the latest year for which the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) issued a report:
- In 2011, there were 742 accidents on Florida waters, resulting in 431 injuries and 67 fatalities;
- 94% of all fatal accidents in 2011 involved vessels 21 feet and under;
- Alcohol or drug-use played a role in 15% of boating fatalities;
- 51% of the operators involved in reportable boating accidents had no formal boater education.
Florida law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 complete a boater education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more, and that these boaters have in their possession a Boating Safety Education ID card issued by the FFWCC while operating a vessel. Even if you’re not required by law to get the Florida boating license, it’s a good idea to take the boat safety course periodically to keep your skills sharp and to save money on your boating insurance.
To help avoid boating accidents, follow all legal rules and regulations; abstain from alcohol while operating a vessel; steer clear of fellow boaters who are drinking or failing to follow rules or common sense safety precautions; keep an eye on the weather both before and during a boating excursion by using a weather radio and studying maps that pinpoint dangerous underwater hazards.
If you or your dependent are injured in a boating crash or accident caused by the actions of another, contact an experienced boating accident attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, practicing throughout Northeast Florida, Orlando and South Georgia, can be reached at 800-251-1111.
According to the 2009 Recreational Boating Statistics report released today by the US Coast Guard’s Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, fatal accidents for recreational boaters increased by 3.8 percent in 2009. The actual number of boating accidents decreased by 1.2 percent.
Two of the more shocking statistics are the fact that nearly 75 percent of of the 736 deaths from boating accidents were as a result of drowning and 84 percent of those victims were not wearing a life preserver. The other shocking statistic is that 86 percent of boat operators involved in an accident had not received any boat safety instruction. According to Admiral Kevin Cook “the two most important things boaters can do to prevent the loss of life is to wear a life jacket and take a boater’s education course.”
Would you ride in a car with someone that had never driven before? Better yet, how about fly with a pilot that has never soloed or taken flying lessons? I’m guessing MOST of you would say no.
You can’t just park the boat when bad weather rolls in and wait for it to clear like parking on the side of the highway in your car. Also, if you haven’t noticed your boat or personal watercraft doesn’t have any brakes.
Check into a local boat safety course and if you have any question about your own swimming ability or your passengers ability – please wear a life jacket. They are much more comfortable and less bulky than the old orange pull over your head life jackets our parents wore.
Happy and Safe Boating!!
Here’s a quick list of things that should make this upcoming boating season safer and more enjoyable. In no particular order:
- Check the weather forecast – it is Florida and you know what that means
- Review a safety checklist before leaving the dock or launching your boat
- USE COMMON SENSE at all times
- Designate a second person in charge to pilot your boat back to safety
- File a float plan so someone else know what you are up to
- Make sure everyone has a proper fitting life-jacket and that they know where they are stored.
- Get a free vessel safety check
- Avoid alcohol – don’t drink and drive
- Learn to swim or find out who on the boat cannot swim – they should don a life-jacket
- Check into a boating safety course even if only to refresh what you already know
According to an AP story, law enforcement officials will soon start increasing the enforcement of a new Florida boating law that recently went into effect. Most people don’t know about the new law and you probably don’t want to get caught by surprise. Fines will range from fifty to eighty dollars.
The new law requires Florida boaters born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 to take and pass a state approved boating education course in order to pilot any vessel with 10 or more horsepower. The new law also applies to non-Florida residents with a few exceptions like those with a USCG Master’s license.
More and more people will be affected every year since it is tied to a specific date and not an age. Being an avid boater all my life, I believe this will go a long way towards improving boating safety. It won’t end all the boat accidents out on the water but I have to believe that if more people understood the basic right of way rules – we would all be better off. Driving a boat is not like driving a car and some people shouldn’t even be driving a car. Biggest difference is that boats don’t have brakes.
Let’s be safe out there on the water and don’t forget all your required safety equipment. If you can’t swim, wear a USCG approved life vest.
Usually March brings us cool mornings and warm afternoons but this is ridiculous. Looks like the cold pattern may break towards the weekend. Hopefully, it will warm up enough for me to get my Ski Nautique out from under all that I have piled on it in the last 5 months and see if it still runs like a top.
A good couple days of cleaning, preventive maintenance and prep work go a long way towards enjoying a safe accident-free spring and summer boating season. As I finished typing that sentence, Mr Sunshine appeared! Now we’re talking.
I have been around boats all my life and have owned my current one for over 20 years now so I know it pretty well but I never hesitate to make sure everything is functioning properly and all my safety equipment is right where I left it. Do you know what safety equipment is required on your boat? When is the last time you actually put your hands on your life jackets or tested your fire extinguisher? Have your kids outgrown last year’s stuff? Mine have. I’m still trying to get rid of the infant jackets from 3 0r 4 years ago. You wouldn’t leave the dock without your lunch, drinks, rods and reels, bait etc….but how many times have you thought.. it’s such a nice day why do I need my radio, my anchor. You get my drift! If you have been boating enough you should clearly understand how quickly that nice day can change.
Get in touch with the local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron for a Vessel Safety Check or visit the US Coast Guard Boating Safety Division site for lots more information concerning safe and enjoyable boating.
Hope to see you out on the Jacksonville waterways soon!
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Harrell & Harrell is proud to serve the people of Jacksonville and the surrounding North Florida area. Please contact us about any questions you may have concerning your car accident, trucking accident, boat accident or any other type of personal injury matter. We are also glad to speak with you about your Social Security Disability questions. We can be reached at (904)251-1111 or (800)251-1111 if you are not in the local calling area. For those of you who like the convenience of the Internet, feel free to use our online form.
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Start now because it may take a while. The government does try to make it easy to get the ball rolling whether it be for disability or retirement. Check out the link at the end of the post to apply online.
If you are denied for disability benefits for whatever reason, contact us , within sixty days of the denial letter’s date or you may have to start the process again. Jacksonville handles most of the claims for the North Florida area.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to call the personal injury lawyers at Harrell and Harrell, PA .
Here’s the link to apply online:
Whether injured by a co-worker or a liable third-party, the effects can be devastating and your right and responsibilites vary greatly. Avoid being the victim of another mistake by contacting us to discuss your legal options.
As the economy worsens and employers attempt to raise production with less manpower, corners will be cut and seemingly innocent oversights will occur resulting in more dangerous work sites and conditions. Don’t become the innocent injured victim. Stay aware of your surroundings and make sure to voice your concerns to the appropriate people so catastrophic personal injury can be avoided.
The National Safety Council published some of the most common safety violations so far in 2009. Scaffolding remains the most problematic area. Whether you are working on the most basic makeshift scaffolds to high-end commercially produced products – safety awareness should be job one. A good discussion of this data can be found at “The Safety Blog“.
If you, your loved one, family member or co-worker find yourself injured on the job due to just plain dumb luck or the carelessness of another – call Harrell & Harrell to arrange for a free consultation or just visit our website and submit a “Do I Have A Case” form. Either way someone will address your concerns so you can just focus on getting better.
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