Safety tips to help avoid boating accidents

June 19, 2014

Pleasure boating is a popular pass time, especially in the summer months. Personal Injury Attorney Charles Spinner talks about the laws that effect Florida boaters and provides some tips to keep you and your passengers safe and avoid a serious watercraft injury.
Get Trained
Inexperience is a leading cause of boat related injuries and death. The vast majority of boat-related deaths happened in incidents where the boat operator didn’t have training on how to operate a boat.

Florida law requires that persons born on or after January 1, 1988, complete a NASBLA-approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. The law also requires that persons affected by this legislation have in their possession a Boating Safety Education I.D. Card issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and photographic I.D. while operating a vessel. No one under 14 years of age may operate any PWC on Florida waters at any time, even if such person possesses a Boating Safety Education ID Card.

Don’t Drink & Boat
Experienced boaters know that there are a lot of things to think about when operating a watercraft. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with your reflexes, vision, speech and judgment. Of course, you need all these things to keep yourself, passengers and fellow boaters safe.
In Florida, boating drunk has strict consequences. It is against Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Any operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to a sobriety test and a chemical test to determine alcohol content. Boating drunk and failing to comply with the sobriety exam can result in suspension of your license. Each year, many accidents happen in Florida waterways due to boating drunk.

Inspect Your Boat’s Condition
Every time your boat enters the water, you should make sure it is in proper working order. Inspect for damage to the hull and any motor or mechanical problems. The United States Coast Guard offers free inspections in Florida. The coast guard inspection checks your boat primary functions including:

  • Life Jackets
  • Registration and numbering
  • Navigation lights
  • Ventilation
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Distress signals (flares, horn, etc.)
  • Battery cover and connections
  • Whether you are boating in the fresh waters of Land O’ Lakes or cruising in the golf off of Sarasota, please remember to be safe and protect yourself and your passengers from injury. For more information or for help with a boat related injury, please feel free to contact Spinner Law Firm for a free, immediate consultation.

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