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Florida Boating Accidents Can Be Avoided With A Boater’s Safety Course

February 12, 2010

The United States Coast Guard 2008 report on Florida boating accidents shows 616 accidents of which 50 accidents involved fatalities that killed 55 people. In addition, there were 371 non-fatal injuries and over $22 million dollars worth of damage due to boating accidents. 106 of these accidents involved collision with a fixed object, 20 from striking a submerged object, and 190 were due to collision with another vessel. 25 people were forcibly ejected from their boat and 45 people were injured falling overboard. Across the country, over two-thirds of boating fatalities were due to drowning and 90% of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

The primary causes of the accidents, injuries and property damage are operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience, and passenger or skier behavior. Many accidents also involve consumption of alcohol. In fact, alcohol was a leading contributing factor in 17% of the boating fatalities in 2008.

Effective January 1, 2010, Florida law now requires that persons born on or after January 1, 1988, complete a NASBLA-approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more (this includes personal water craft such as jet skis and wave runners). The law also requires that persons affected by this legislation have in their possession a boater safety identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and photographic ID while operating a vessel. Florida does not have a "boating license."  The Boating Safety Education Identification Card is proof of successful completion of the educational requirements and is valid for life.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offers several ways to take an online boater’s safety course. They also offer on-site classes and correspondence courses so boaters can complete requirements as conveniently as possible.

For personal safety, everyone onboard your vessel should be wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Florida law requires that:

  • The owner and/or operator of a vessel is responsible to carry, store, maintain and use the safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
  • All vessels are required to have onboard a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person.  The PFDs must be of the appropriate size for the intended wearer, be in serviceable condition, and within easy access.  The State of Florida urges all people onboard a boat to wear a life jacket.
  • Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have at least one USCG-approved throwable Type IV PFD that is immediately available in case of a fall overboard.
  • A child under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device while onboard a vessel under 26 feet in length while the vessel is under way.  "Under way" is defined as anytime except when the vessel is anchored, moored, made fast to the shore or aground.

Florida boating accidents can in the blink of an eye and for numerous reasons: you can slip and fall overboard slipping on the deck or from inattention, drinking on the boat can contribute to a fall overboard, bad weather can contribute, and being hit by another boat can cause a fall overboard. In most instances, the passenger either does not have enough time to grab a life jacket before falling overboard or is unconscious and unable to put on a life jacket, so it is important for all boating passengers to wear a PFD at all times.

Florida boating accident lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, has operated boats throughout South Florida, the Bahamas and Florida Keys for over 30 years.  If you or a loved one have been involved in Florida boating accidents, get advice from the experienced Florida boating accident lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph M. Maus, to determine your rights.  For a free, no obligation consultation, call Toll Free 866-556-5529 or log onto http://www.mauslawfirm.com today.

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