If you live in Florida there is little chance that you haven’t enjoyed the thrill of boating. So many lakes, rivers and access to two oceans make it one of the most popular leisure activities in the state. There are many types of crafts available, from jet skis, sail boats and of course motor boats. Some are fast and some are slow but all are potentially dangerous. This is true even under the best circumstances with an alert and sober operator or captain. However, when you mix alcohol with the inherent danger, it can turn deadly.
In 2013 there were 736 reported boating accidents in Florida waters. 62 involved fatalities. The leading cause of boating accidents is when one boat collides with another or crashes into an object. Officials say that boaters can decrease the risk of those crashes by having someone keep watch over their surroundings. It is critical for operators to maintain a proper lookout and focus on what’s going on around them at all times.
The leading cause of death from boat accidents is drowning. This can be prevented by wearing a life jacket, yet most people just won’t use them. They find them cumbersome and restricts their ability to tan. They think they will be able to locate one quickly enough if there is an incident but sadly that is not always the case.
It is recommended that all owners and operators of a vessel, take a coast guard approved safety course. Most people are aware of the dangers of driving a car, including the effects that alcohol can have on their ability to do so safely. However, most don’t view the operation of a boat the same way. DUI laws apply in the same manner for boats as for motor vehicles, yet people don’t seem to have the same respect for impairment while operating a boat.
Most boat owners are not aware of insurance coverage available to them. If you’re new to boating you may assume that your homeowner’s insurance will magically stretch to cover your boat. In most cases it won’t. Like a home or car policy, you can insure your boat so that if it is determined that you were at fault, you will be covered. Also, if you run aground or strike an object and sink your boat it can be replaced. With the growing popularity of boating, your biggest risk may be suffering damage and or injury from a boater that is not insured. I urge you to call your insurance agent and inquire as to the types of coverages available and as always, buy as much as you can afford. It will protect you and your friends and family. Then get out on the water every chance you get and enjoy this Florida lifestyle, with the secure feeling that you are protected. Another tip: Don’t take alcohol on your boat and insist that all your passengers wear a life jacket. Happy sailing.