Lee County has been named the fifth most dangerous area for boating accidents in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The county saw 39 boating accidents and 29 fatalities in the last year alone.
Florida leads the nation in both boat ownership and boating-related accidents and fatalities. However, the issue comes down to more than just the volume of watercrafts Floridians own—the number of accidents that occur statewide annually far exceeds the total of boats, especially when compared to other states.
The dangers have only increased during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many of Florida’s beaches have closed, causing people to take to socializing on the water instead. This influx of boaters has led to clogged waterways and an increase in accidents.
So, what are the major causes of boating accidents in Lee County? Ultimately, the three main risk factors that have been identified by the latest data are the use of alcohol, ignorance of water safety rules and vehicle operation, and the lack of adequate life jackets.
Boating is one of the great Florida pastimes. Yet, in order to enjoy a day on the water to the fullest, boat safety is of the utmost importance.
Like driving, boating requires skill and attention. If you are unfamiliar with things like how to operate a vehicle on the water or what to do during bad weather, we strongly recommend taking a boat safety class. Fortunately, Florida offers many courses, both online and in person, that cover topics such as basic seamanship, water safety, and navigation.
Before you even get on your boat, you should make sure that everyone is prepared, and all the necessary components are working and accounted for.
To operate at maximum safety, every boat should have:
- Enough life jackets for everyone onboard
- Fire extinguishers
- A life preserver
- A flare
- A lookout
Not having a lookout was identified as another one of the major causes of boating accidents. Simply having a designated individual who is sober and alert keeping watch for potential dangers can go a long way.
Other dangers include recklessly operating a watercraft, especially in the form of speeding and driving under the influence. According to the Boat U.S. Foundation, nearly half of all boating accidents involve the use of alcohol. The United States Coast Guard also claims that alcohol use is the number one contributing factor to fatal boat accidents. Speeding is considered almost equally dangerous.
Finally, the sun, heat, and weather encountered while on the water can lead to dangerous conditions, from fatigue to heatstroke. To best mitigate these risks, make sure that you thoroughly prepare enough water, shade, and sunscreen before heading out and that the driver remains sober and alert.
By taking a few extra precautions, you are greatly increasing your chances of having all the fun a boating excursion affords without the dangers or stresses of experiencing a boat accident. We wish you all a fun and safe summer with your boats!
Have you or a loved one been injured in a boating accident caused by another’s reckless behavior in or around Lee County? Our Bonita Springs boating accident attorney can help you receive the compensation you need to recover. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.