In our previous post, we began speaking about boating accidents in Florida, and the way in which the boating industry puts up resistance to suggestions for increased regulation of boaters. One such suggestion is to require boaters to wear life jackets. At present, no state requires all boaters to wear life jackets all the time. Increased boater education is another suggestion.
The Boating industry claims that such requirements would prevent people from getting on the water, but that contention is contradicted by a three-year study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at four lakes in Mississippi. In that study, requiring all boaters to wear life jackets did not result in decreased use of the lake or affect local commerce. And the number of yearly boating deaths decreased at those lakes after the requirement was implemented.
Is the boating industry standing the way of improving the safety of boaters in the state of Florida? Many feel so. To take just one example: while years of data shows that boating experience alone does not reduce the risk of boating accidents, the boating industry was successful in convincing lawmakers to oppose a bill that would have increased the age of boaters required to take safety education courses. Under current law, only those 25 years old or less must take such education courses, but no doubt many boaters could benefit. And, of course, the lobbying is tied to money and favors.
Boating accidents can result in serious injuries and even death for those involved in them. While victims may be able to recover damages from responsible parties, there is also a need to prevent accident from occurring in the first place. Many feel this can be done by passing modest requirements for boaters in the state of Florida. Only time will tell whether the boating industry’s influence will continue to present roadblocks to increased boater safety.
Source: Florida Center For Investigative Reporting, “Florida Leads Nations in Boating Deaths,” Mc Nelly Torres, April 30, 2013.