In Florida, water-related recreational sports and hobbies are popular throughout the year, but experience a definite spike in activity in the summer months. Boating in particular is a popular hobby, whether for the purpose of fishing for fresh, local seafood or simply as a way to enjoy an afternoon relaxing with family and friends. Unfortunately, with the large numbers of people who participate in boating in our state, boating related accidents and injuries are an unfortunately common occurrence. The week of May 21 through the 27 has been designated as National Safe Boating Week, and to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your loved ones and friends, familiarize yourself with state regulations concerning boaters, as well as ways in which you can help to prevent and avoid injuries.

Florida Boating Facts and Regulations

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the state of Florida contains over 12,000 square miles of water, with over 2,200 square miles of coastline. In addition to the beaches, more than 7,700 lakes within the state provide an abundance of opportunities for water recreation. Boating is a favorite form of enjoyment for residents and visitors alike, generating more than $10 billion in revenue each year and supplying job for over 80,000 residents. Unfortunately, with the abundance of boaters in the area, the FWC reports that Florida is one of the top ten states for boater accidents and injuries, with an average of nearly 700 accidents reported each year.

Under Chapter 327 of the Florida State Statutes addressing vessel operation and safety, all Florida boaters are required to following certain regulations, including the following:

  • All boat operators and passengers must wear an approved lifejacket or flotation device;
  • All boat operators born on or after January 1, 1988 must have a photo I.D. identifying their boat, as well as a boater safety I.D. card issued by the FWC;
  • Boaters are restricted from operating their vessel under the influence or drugs or in a reckless manner;
  • All boaters are required to obey all regulatory markers and navigational signals; and
  • All boating accidents are required to be reported to both local law enforcement as well as the FWC, and floundering vessels should seek assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Boating Safety Tips

According to the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) , the last week in May is generally recognized as National Safe Boating Week. In addition to following state regulations, the NSBC offers these tips to help avoid accidents and injuries:

  • Do not take driving or being a passenger in a boat lightly. Make sure drivers are experienced operators, and be aware of how you can help as a passenger in a boating emergency.
  • Pay attention to weather warnings and water conditions, and do not get out if a storm is called for.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you will be coming back.
  • Have your vessel checked for safety, and make sure it is properly maintained.

Reach Out to Us for Assistance 

If you or someone you know is involved in a boating accident, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys today. At Hogan Frick Law, we can assist you in holding responsible parties accountable, so that you can get the compensation you need to recover. We have offices in Orlando, Gainesville, Ocala, Kissimmee, and Lakeland; call or contact our office online today for a free case consultation.