National Safe Boating Week kicks 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 across the state.
“Our state is known worldwide as a prime boating spot for residents and visitors. Unfortunately, each year FWC officers respond to far too many tragic boating accidents that could have been prevented,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “There were hundreds of accidents reported last year, involving almost 2,000 individuals.”
In 2022, 54% of all vessel accidents involved collision. 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, maintain 360-degree awareness at all times and take a boater safety course. In 2022, 70% of operators involved in fatal boating accidents had no formal boater education. For a summary of Florida’s regulations and available courses, visit: MyFWC.com/Boating.
“We know that an educated boater is safer on the water,” said Beaton. “Everyone can benefit from taking a boating safety course, it makes for a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone on board.”
Among other tips found at MyFWC.com/Boating, boaters are encouraged to find and wear a comfortable United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on the water. They should also educate themselves on the dangers of impaired boating. Alcohol and drugs can impair a boater’s judgement, reaction time and overall ability to operate a boat safely.
“Boating while impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal,” said Beaton. “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.”
To report dangerous boating activity the public can submit anonymous tips by texting 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information about the violation or call 888-404-FWCC (3922). Additionally, there is an easy-to-use downloadable iPhone or Android app: “FWC Wildlife Alert.”