Florida authorities are concerned about the spike in boating accidents and deaths in the past year. The rate of fatal accidents on the water jumped 21% last year, more than the state has seen since 2011. A typical year sees about 65 deaths on the water, but 2020 ended with 79 deaths and over 830 non-fatal accidents. Boating accidents are almost always preventable, and they usually result from any of the following common behaviors of boat operators:
- Driving recklessly
- Failing to monitor weather conditions
- Operating their boats while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Looking at their electronic devices while driving
- Paying attention to other occupants in the boat instead of watching where they are going
Almost half of the boating accidents in Florida in 2020 involved boats colliding, often because an operator was not paying attention or missed noticeable hazards. Authorities say this is usually a sign of inexperience, but it can also be a result of any of the above listed factors. A boat owner should also provide adequate life jackets and insist their passengers wear them. Drowning is the most common cause of death for boaters.
Some blame the higher death rates on the increased number of boats on the water, many with untrained operators. This is likely a consequence of the recent global health crisis that reduced the opportunities for boaters to learn essential skills. Nevertheless, a boat is not a toy, and those who operate any motorized watercraft should understand that they carry a serious responsibility for their passengers and potentially others on the water.