The recent story of two young boys lost at sea and the recovery efforts to find them highlight some key issues when it comes to boating safety. Questions have been raised regarding Coast Guard requirements for safety, the minimum age for boaters, the use of lifejackets, and the dangers of open seas boating and boating on waterways and inlets. When it comes to boating safety there are some basic precautions to take to make sure you stay safe and prevent injuries caused by boating accidents.
Florida Boating Regulations
Boating laws and regulations ensure boaters aren’t a danger to themselves or others when operating boats, jet skis, and other forms of personal watercraft. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there aren’t any specific laws regarding a minimum age for operating a boat. However, there are regulations involving personal watercraft which are age specific. Florida laws for boaters include the following:
- All vessels must be registered, with the exception of non-motorized, personal watercraft less than 16 feet long;
- All vessels must obey posted speed and wake zone restrictions;
- The operator and all occupants must wear an approved life jacket;
- Operators of personal watercraft must be at least 14 years old;
- Personal watercraft may not be operated ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise;
- Boat operators are required to have completed a safe boating course and have in their possession a boating education ID card at all times; and
- Boat operators showing a careless disregard for the safety of others will be cited for careless operation.
In addition to the above, boaters are prohibited from operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Boaters with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater will be cited for boating under the influence (BUI).
The U.S. Coast Guard estimates there are over 4,000 boating accidents each year in the United States. In order to protect yourself and others while enjoying the water, the American Boating Association advises boaters to follow boating safety tips, such as:
- Know your boat is seaworthy and have the proper equipment on board;
- Plan your voyage, and let others know where you are going;
- Always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD);
- Familiarize yourself with first aid and boating emergency techniques;
- Be aware of any environmental factors that could affect your trip;
- Don’t overload your boat with passengers;
- Always make sure you follow wake signs and directional markers; and
- Make sure you have enough fuel and supplies.
Be aware of the different requirements for boating in on waterways and in inlets, versus boating in the open ocean. Don’t underestimate the supplies or equipment for a voyage on the open seas; doing so could jeopardize your own life, as well as the lives of your passengers.
Contact Our Experienced Florida Boat Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been involved or injured in a boating accident, contact our experienced Florida boat accident attorneys today. At Hogan Frick, our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of boating accidents, and can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. We have offices conveniently located in Orlando, Gainesville, Ocala, Kissimmee, and Lakeland, so call us today for a free review of your case.