Another fatal boat accident occurred in South Florida this week. Two people were ejected from a boat late Thursday. A woman was rescued from the water, but a man that was ejected, Zach Forte, passed away from the accident. The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers were still investigating the accident.
The accident is yet another reminder of the dangers of operating a boat at night. South Florida has seen 4 other fatal accidents involving the operation of a boat at night in just the last few years. All of the accidents have involved boats operating at high speed, and several involved a driver that had been drinking alcoholic beverages prior to operating the boat.
Florida Ranks in the Top 10 of National Boat Accident Fatalities
The U.S. Coast Guard recently released its 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, revealing there were 613 boating fatalities nationwide in 2019. Non-fatal boating accidents increased to 4,168 nationwide in 2019. The top ten most accident-prone boating states are:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- Hawaii, and
Unfortunately, many of these states have minimal or no licensing requirements at all. This means that the driver of the boat you are on, or the boat that is passing you at a high rate of speed, may not have any training in the safe operation of the boat at all. This creates an especially dangerous climate for boating accidents in South Florida as many recreational boats, particularly center consoles, are now built with 3, 4 and even 5 engines powering these large boats to over 60 miles per hour. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard lists excessive speed as one of the most common causes of boating deaths in Florida. The other top contributing factors to boating accidents in South Florida are:
- Driver inattentiveness
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience, and
- Alcohol impairment
Our Fort Lauderdale Boat Accident Attorney Offers Tips to Help You Prevent Injuries While Boating
Step #1 is to wear a Coast Guard Approved life jacket. Of the boating accidents where the cause of death was known, 79% of the boating accident victims drowned. Of those deaths, 86% of those people were not wearing a life jacket. A life jacket properly worn greatly reduces your odds of survival in a Florida boating accident.
Step #2 is to make sure you only operate a boat after undergoing training on the safe operation of the boat and receive boating safety instructions. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free boating safety courses across the United States.
Step #3 is to reduce your speed when operating a boat at night. Vision and depth perception are greatly reduced at nighttime. It is difficult to determine the direction of other boats at night and their speed, difficult to see navigational markers and jetties, difficult to see the shoreline, and sometimes difficult to even see other boats that may be in your path. In addition to reducing your speed, consider placing infrared imaging equipment on your boat. Otherwise known as FLIR, Infrared Imaging Equipment detects differences in heat, not light, and can capture thermal energy emitted or reflected by another boat, or a channel marker.
Lastly, and this is the most obvious boating safety tip, don’t drink and drive. Just like operating a car, always have an experienced designated driver to operate the boat you are on.
For more information about Florida’s boating laws or help receiving compensation after Florida boating accident, contact the Maus Law Firm for a free consultation at 954.784.6310.