A boat recently crashed into a red channel marker in the waters off Miami Beach, casting one of the passengers, twenty-year old Christopher Alexander Alfonso, into the water. Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescued Mr. Alfonso, who was bleeding from an open wound on his head.
Unfortunately, this accident is but one of many in Florida’s waters. The FWC reports that Florida leads the country in boating accidents and fatalities, which it has done for ten out of the past eleven years. In 2011, there were seven hundred and forty-two boating accidents, including sixty-seven reported deaths. Most of the accidents were the result of collisions with different boats, buoys and other objects in the water.
The popularity of boating and the sheer number of boats in the state are partially to blame for the relatively large number of boating related accidents and deaths. There are approximately one million registered boats in Florida, and perhaps equally as many unregistered. Additionally, boating in Florida is a year-round activity while in many other states it is only seasonal.
However, the general lack of adequate safety precautions by boaters—including such fundamental precautions as wearing a life jacket, and the prevalence of boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are also somewhat to blame for these accidents. In fact, close to one-third of all fatal boating accidents are alcohol-related.
Education of the public is crucial in increasing boating safety, and eliminating drinking and boating. To that end, the FWC, the Coast Guard, and the U.S. Power Squadrons all offer courses on boating safety, including on-line courses.
We hope that increased education and awareness of the risks of boating will lead to fewer accidents and a safer boating environment for all. In the event that you or a loved one gets into a boat accident, seek immediate medical attention. Contact our office for further information.