FWC reminds boaters to prioritize safety ahead of summer

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    Rodney Barreto

    Each year, National Safe Boating Week runs the week before the Memorial Day weekend, kicking off the summer boating season as an annual reminder for boaters to prioritize safety while enjoying recreational activities on Florida’s beautiful waterways. Florida is recognized as “The Boating Capital of the World” and leads the nation with over 1 million registered vessels nationwide. With so many boats on the state’s waterways, Florida is a leader in promoting boating accident prevention.  

    Florida waterways are a destination for boating activities by residents and visitors, and those activities increase as we enter the summer months; unfortunately, so do the accidents. FWC officers respond to far too many tragic boating accidents that could have been prevented by following a few simple boating safety guidelines.

    There were 659 reportable boating accidents in 2023, and almost 30% were caused by a collision with a fixed object. The primary causes for these accidents were improper lookout and operator inexperience. To reduce the number of boating accidents, the FWC encourages boaters to pay attention, always maintain 360-degree awareness, and take a boater safety course. Over 80% of operators involved in fatal boating accidents in 2023 had no formal boater education. For a summary of Florida’s regulations and available courses, visit MyFWC.com/Boating.

    Among other tips found at MyFWC.com/Boating, boaters are encouraged to always find and wear a comfortable U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on the water. According to 2023 FWC boating accident statistics, approximately 50% of the boating deaths were due to drowning. Events can cause a boater to end up in the water unexpectedly, and a person will not have time to grab their life jacket before they find themselves in the water.       

    Boaters should also educate themselves on the dangers of impaired boating. Alcohol and drugs can impair a boater’s judgment, reaction time, and overall ability to operate a boat safely.

    Boating while impaired by alcohol or drugs is not only dangerous but illegal. FWC officers are always on the lookout for impaired operators and these operators will face arrest if found to be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

    We encourage the public to report people operating boats dangerously by calling 888-404-FWCC or texting 847411 (Tip411) with the keyword “FWC” and information about the violation.

    Enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways and all they offer with your friends and family this summer, but let’s do it safely. 

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