By Kogan & DiSalvo, personal injury law firm located in Florida.
According to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the number of fatal boating accidents increased 20 percent last year, despite the fact that the number of accidents in the state decreased by two percent.
In 2015, the state far surpassed every other state in the country in the total number of boating accidents. Florida had 671 recreational boating crashes, while California had 396, New York had 175, and Texas had 154 accidents. Florida also had the highest number of boating accident fatalities, with 52 deaths. California had 48 fatal boating accidents and Texas had 44. The number one cause of death – at 60 percent – was drowning. More than 80 percent of victims were not wearing a floatation device.
A spokesperson for the Fish and Wildlife’s Boating and Waterways Section points out that Florida also has the highest number of registered boats in the country. There are currently more than 930,000 boats registered. He also said that one of the biggest issues that contributes to these accidents is inattention of the people driving the boats. Too many are distracted by phones, GPS, or talking to other people on the boat with them. He said that this was the cause of the majority of crashes last year, 204 of them.
Operator experience was deemed to be the cause of 109 crashes, followed by 63 crashes resulting from excessive speed. Drinking and boating is also a concern, with 24 boating accidents being alcohol-related.
The Coast Guard also reports that in their 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics report that across the country, boating fatalities hit the highest they’ve been in five years, with 701 lives lost in boating accidents. This was up by 12 percent over 2015, where 626 people died. Boating accident injuries also increased. In 2016 there were 2,903 injuries reported, up 11 percent over the previous year’s number of 2,613. Overall, boating accidents increased by more than 7 percent from 2016 to 2015.