FWC: Sharp Increase in Florida Boating Accidents

A new report from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reveals a sharp increase in the number of boating accidents in Florida in 2015. boating

The 2015 Boating Accident Statistics Report reveals the Sunshine State had 737 reported boating accidents last year. That is more than 100 more than what was reported in 2014. A spokesman for the agency was quoted as saying most of these crashes and fatalities could have been prevented if operators had been paying attention and if passengers had all been wearing life vests.

Florida has the most registered vessels of anywhere in the country, with 915,713 registered as of last year.

The No. 1 type of accident was collision with another vessel. There were 191 of those, accounting for 26 percent of all boating accidents. 

Of the 737 accidents reported, there were 438 injuries and 55 fatalities. Of those who died, 42 percent were killed in accidents where passengers fell overboard. The No. cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning, accounting for nearly 65 percent of all deaths. Alcohol and drug use played a factor in nearly one-fifth of all boating deaths.

The deadliest months for boating deaths: May and July. (This probably has a lot to do with Memorial Day and the 4th of July being extremely popular holidays for boaters.)

South Florida was an especially perilous place for boaters. Miami-Dade had the highest number of both accidents and injuries reported – 96 accidents, 74 injuries and three deaths. Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys, ranked No. 2, with a total of 37 injuries and five fatalities. Broward County was No. 3, with 39 accidents without injury, 13 accidents with injury and five fatal accidents.

Here in Broward, the vast majority of boating accidents involved open motorboats and cabin motorboats. Only a fraction involved personal watercraft, sailboats and air boats.

The top factors in Broward boating accidents were identified as:

  • No proper lookout – 20 crashes
  • Machinery failure – 11 crashes
  • Operator inexperience – 5 crashes
  • Excessive speed – 4 crashes
  • Alcohol use – 4 crashes

Other issues cited included poor weather, sharp turns, lack of proper lights, hazardous waters, failure to vent fumes and careless/ reckless operation.

Florida far outranks other states when it comes to boating accidents. Still, it should be noted that while the total number in 2015 was significantly higher than the year before, it was generally on par with what had been reported in years prior.

  • 2011 – 742 boating accidents
  • 2012 – 704 boating accidents
  • 2013 – 736 boating accidents
  • 2014 – 634 boating accidents
  • 2015 – 737 boating accidents

The number of registered vessels too was up as well, from 899,635 in 2014 to nearly 916,000 in 2015.

The Broward boating accident rate is 1 crash for every 749 registered vessels. Statewide, it’s 1 crash for every 1,242 vessels.

When it came to personal water craft accidents, Broward ranked No. 12. There were a total four personal water craft accidents in the county last year, resulting in three injuries. There were thankfully no fatalities. The No. 1 location for personal watercraft accidents was Miami-Dade, where 33 crashes and 29 injuries were reported.

In total, there are 114,000 personal watercraft registered in the state – $3,150 of those being rentals – and there were 161 accidents last year, resulting in four deaths and 128 injuries. Statewide, the accident rate is 1 for every 727 vessels. In Miami, it’s 1 for every 401 vessels.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

2015 Boating Accident Statistics Report , May 2016, FWC

More Blog Entries:

Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawsuit Filed After Bounce House Blows Away From Beach, May 10, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Boating Accident Lawyer Blog