Florida has more boats than any other state – about 899,635 in 2014. Unfortunately, Florida also has the unfortunate distinction of having more boating accidents than most other parts of the country. In 2014, there were 634 reportable boating accidents. To prevent a boating accident in Miami or your community, there are several things you will want to do:
1) Know the risks.
May was the month with the most boating accidents in Florida, and Miami-Dade County saw the most accidents and fatalities in 2014. About 26% of boating accidents involved a boat colliding with another vessel. It is especially important to use extra caution in the summer months, when more boaters may be on the water. When sharing waters with other boaters, be sure to maintain a safe distance and be respectful of others out on the water.
2) Wear a safety vest.
The leading cause of fatalities in boating accidents involved passengers falling overboard. Even if you are a strong swimmer, tides and currents can make it impossible to swim to safety. If you hit your head while falling from the boat, you may be disoriented or even lose consciousness, making it hard to swim to safety. In these situation, the right gear can keep you afloat and can help rescue workers pull you to safety by helping you stay visible. Never operate a boat unless all passengers are wearing life vests.
3) Stay sober.
In 2014, drug use and alcohol was a factor in 12% of boating fatalities. This highly preventable cause of accidents can easily be eradicated if all boaters refused to operate vessels or boats after drinking.
Keep in mind, too, that smaller amounts of alcohol can have a bigger impact on the water. Because of the motion of a boat, the hot sun, and the sun’s glare, it’s possible to have your response times affected even after only one or two drinks. Wait until you’re on dry land for the day before having a drink.
4) Use caution when renting boats or personal water craft.
You may not be as familiar with a rented vessel, and this can put you at risk. In addition, you may not be sure what sort of condition a rented vessel is in. In 2014, 50% of personal water craft accidents involved rented vessels.
To stay safe when renting, consider renting vessels you are familiar with. Ask for a demonstration and try the vessel on less crowded and calm waters before taking the vessel out further. Stay alert and cautious when operating the craft.
5) Take boating safety classes.
Boating safety classes are required for all boaters in Florida born on or after January 1, 1988. However, even if you don’t technically have to take a class, it’s still a great investment. It can help you avoid a collision. Keep in mind: 82% of operators in fatal boating accidents in 2014 had taken no boater classes or formal courses. Taking a class can help you avoid a serious accident.
If you have been involved in a boating accident and think you may have a personal injury claim in Miami or anywhere in South Florida, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free case consultation.