Many push for more parasailing regulation in wake of accidents

It may not be the first thing you think of when you hear “boat accident,” but parasailing is an industry in itself, and sometimes a dangerous one. A number of deadly accidents in recent years has left many hoping for better safety laws.

Many tourists have found themselves hanging from a parachute at the back of a boat when they’ve gone to Florida. Despite the amount of people who have gone parasailing, the activity is not tightly regulated by any government safety laws.

Fatalities have been attributed to the activity. According to the Sun Sentinel, one man from South Carolina lost his life to parasailing just last month. Eight other people have died because of parasailing accidents in the past decade, according to the Coast Guard. These numbers may not even be totally accurate, as no government agency keeps an intense watch over the parasailing industry.

In 2009, two women were involved in an accident that took their lives in North Carolina. Their towline reportedly snapped due to strong winds, and they crashed into the ocean several times, also colliding with the boat that was towing them. The accident ended when the parasail became entwined on a pier.

Without moderate government safety regulations, companies that provide the service do not have to inspect their equipment regularly or observe many, if any, activity-specific laws. One of the few laws they have to obey involves keeping out of the flight paths of planes; the Federal Aviation Administration makes sure of this. No government affiliate creates standards for harnesses, training, procedures or the parachutes involved in parasailing.

Legislation looking to create safety regulations and standards for parasailing equipment did not make it through Florida’s governmental system this year. This is not the first attempt at a bill looking to establish these safety standards.

Some who own parasailing businesses say taking the time for extensive training for customers would cut down their ability to make appointments, and with it, their profits.

Still, others say safety should come first.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Despite fatalities, parasailing unregulated in Florida,” David Fleshler, 5 July 2011