With National Safe Boating week and the release of the 2018 Boating Accident Statistical Report, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages boaters to focus on simple, effective steps that make boating safer.
Though Florida’s boating season never really ends, Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional start nationwide and is a great opportunity to focus on safety. With nearly 1 million registered boats in the state, people safely enjoy boating every day. However, each year, FWC officers respond to tragic and preventable boating accidents.
“National Safe Boating Week was May 18-24,” said Maj. Rob Rowe, leader of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It presented an opportunity to emphasize the importance of remaining safe while boating.”
Boaters can safely enjoy their time on the water by taking the following safety precautions, including:
• Wearing a life jacket.
• Using an engine cut-off switch lanyard.
• Designating a sober boat operator.
• Paying attention and keeping a proper lookout.
• Having an emergency locator beacon.
• Filing a float plan.
• Taking a boating safety class.
“Inattention of the boat operator continues to be the leading cause of boating accidents, according to our statistical report,” Rowe said. “It is critical for operators to be aware of what is going on around them.”
The report also indicates there were 628 accidents last year, down from 766 in 2017.
“Our officers are committed to keeping people as safe as possible, but we need boaters’ help,” Rowe said. “We want boaters to understand that most boating accidents are preventable.”
To report people who are boating dangerously, call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or textTip@MyFWC.com. More information can be found by visiting MyFWC.com/Boating. You can even search there for the Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder to help you find a great place to launch your boat.
The FWC is responsible for reviewing, analyzing and compiling boating accident data for the state. Its statistical report details boating accidents and their causes. The theme of accident-related messages from FWC staff is clear: Officers want to help keep Florida’s beautiful waterways a safe place to boat.
For a copy of the 2018 Boating Accident Statistical Report, visit MyFWC.com/Boating and select “Safety & Education” and “Boating Accidents.”