Even though the number of registered boats in Florida declined by 20,000 last year, the number of boat accidents went up. And, not surprisingly, the state topped the nation in the number of boating fatalities, as it has in years past.
There were 668 boating accidents in Florida in 2010, a number that jumped to 742 last year. There were 67 boating fatalities in 2011, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report. Most of the accidents took place when boats collided with other boats, or other objects. The leading cause of death was drowning.
It’s not surprising that Florida topped the list, as it has nine of the last 10 years. (It was topped only once by California.) There are more than 1 million boats registered with the state and possibly as many that are not registered. That’s far more than any other state. And since boating is a year-round activity thanks to warm weather, there is more room for accidents to occur.
If there is any positive news to pick out from the report, it is that education among Florida boaters appears to be increasing. The number of boaters who are issued boating education ID cards is going up. In the state, it is not required for boating courses to be completed to operate a boat with an engine with 10 horsepower or greater if a boater was born before Jan. 1, 1988.
Obviously, it’s good that more boaters are taking classes, even if it isn’t required. Hopefully that will ultimately help lower the number of boating fatalities. There have been 28 boating-related deaths so far this year.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Florida again leads nation in boating accidents,” Laura C. Morel, July 14, 2012