Miami Distracted Boating Accidents
Florida has more registered vessels on the water than any other state. Perhaps this is why Florida also has the highest number of boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities each year. According to one report from The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, 2017 saw a 20 percent increase in boating accidents statewide. This is according to 2016 statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard. Among many causes, distracted boating is one of the more common reasons for personal watercraft accidents.
How Bad is Distracted Boating?
We all know cell phones and cars done mix – or at least they shouldn’t. Teens and younger drivers tend to be the worst about using handheld devices while driving. We’ve heard all the numbers and risks associated with texting and driving, especially the fact that being distracted can slow your reaction time as much as (or more than) being legally intoxicated. But what about boating?
In a 2015-2016 report by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the organization found that improper lookout or distractions accounted for between 22 and 24 percent of all small vessel crashes. They accounted for between 9 and 14 percent of all boating fatalities, as well.
How is Distracted Boating Dangerous?
It takes longer to react and stop a motor vehicle on dry land when you are distracted. That, of course, assumes working brakes, dry pavement, and a sober driver. When it comes to boats, there are no brakes, and there is no pavement. It takes time to react to a hazard to the front or side of a vessel, and if you are distracted, you lose valuable time that you may need in order to take evasive actions. Since there are no brakes, your typical course of action is to reduce speed and change directions. But react too quickly and overcorrect, and you could capsize the boat. In short, operating a boat is different and requires heightened attention at all times.
Other Safety Recommendations
NASBLA also recommends the Top 10 Safety Improvements that would help boaters be safer. Some of the top suggestions from the list included:
- Reduce speed
- Wear life jackets
- Less distracted boating
- Better boater education
Other Recommendations for Safety
Game and Fish Magazine recommends that you eat before you boat. This way you aren’t tempted to eat while driving. And, of course, always make sure you have a designated driver to operate the boat so that others can enjoy alcohol responsibly. Even then, drink responsibly. Alcohol can cause a lot of injuries and deaths that are not even related to operating the boat, such as falling overboard, head injuries, and so forth.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
Most importantly, call 911 or contact the nearest public safety official, such as the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer, Sheriff’s Department, or other law enforcement department. It is a misdemeanor to leave the scene of a boating accident where there is an injury, death, or property damage of more than $2,000. Once you’ve received medical attention and law enforcement has investigated the incident, be sure to gather any official reports that are prepared, and contact a Miami maritime injury lawyer. Michael F. Guilford, P.A. has decades of experience representing injured boaters. For a free consultation, call or visit the firm online today.