Boats Are Getting More Dangerous in Florida

If Florida is famous for anything, it’s water. There’s water everywhere here. We’re surrounded on three sides by the ocean and the Gulf, and then, within the state, we have an enormous number of lakes and swamps. Florida is a wet state. We all know that. But it’s time perhaps we put a little more consideration into how we interact with that water. Specifically, it’s time we paid more attention to how we boat around all that lovely water.

A blog post from Glover Law Firm has recently pointed out that there’s been an increase in boat accidents in recent years. To begin with, Glover Law Firm points out that Florida actually leads the country in the number of boat accidents and in the number of boat accident deaths. While it makes sense that Florida would be near the top of the list, since we have so much water and such a large population, it is depressing to think we lead both categories. After all, Texas has a long coast and a large population. The same is true for the country’s most populous state, California. New York has a great lake and access to the ocean, plus rivers and lakes, and it has the fourth largest population in the country. Despite all these contenders, Florida is the undeniable worst for boat accidents and deaths. That suggests more needs to be done to curb these numbers, and more has been done with boat education and safety regulations.

Unfortunately, it appears these efforts have done little or no good. While the number of injuries in Florida boat accidents jumps around a little bit, the most recent numbers suggest Floridians are getting no better about avoiding serious boating accidents. The latest numbers we have, in 2015, show the number of injuries hitting a five year high, at 438 injuries. That is only one more than in 2011, but it is a discouraging 73 more than in 2014.

What does that tell us about Florida? It tells us that all other efforts so far have failed to do much to make the waterways safer for boaters.
That leads to the uncomfortable discussion of what more can be done. The first option would be to simply accept the numbers for what they are. We have a lot of tourists, a lot of people who come to relax and party, and that means drinking, drugs, and irresponsibility. It’s hard to see how we eliminate that and maintain our tourism charm.

I don’t think many residents would be happy about doing nothing, though, so option two is to pass stricter laws against boating under the influence and boat accidents, and then to enforce those laws more strictly. This would almost certainly lead to some dent in those high numbers, but the consequences may be fewer people coming to our state to enjoy themselves and also a more bloated justice system.

I’m not sure which option is better, but the numbers appear to indicate it’s time we seriously discuss which direction we prefer our state to go on this issue.