Florida waters are home to some of the highest boat activity in the country, and with so many scenic locations that should be no surprise that high traffic would be the norm. But with so many even in such a large space, accidents are bound to happen.
The Florida Keys attracts many boaters to its waters, and in 2014 this resulted in five fatalities from boating accidents. While this may seem dangerous, it is second in the state to Miami-Dade County where ten people had died in the same year.
Matching the Keys Monroe County in number of accidental deaths, landing them both in the list of top ten counties for boating accidents in the state, responsible for more than $1.2 million in property damage.
These numbers come from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Boating Accidents Statistical Report.
Statewide, numbers may seem trending towards the positive for boaters whether they be experienced or casual navigators of nearby waters. Reported injuries are lower than in the past, and damages exceeding $2,000 have dropped from 736 incidents to 634 from 2013 to 2014. And while these numbers may bode well for cautious boaters, boating-related deaths are up by 18%. These, however, do not include deaths from other aquatic activities such as snorkeling.
Officer with the FWC, Bobby Dune claimed the increase in deaths is from a simple increase in the number of boats and their passengers. This is made possible by the fast open access to boats and the water. Many boats have decreased in price and purchasers can go directly to water just hours after acquiring it. This speedy introduction of new boaters can cause problems when experienced and novice travelers intermingle.
In the state of Florida there are 899,635 registered water vessels, placing them at the head of the nation for registered watercraft. However, there are an estimated million more vessels on the water that are unregistered, ranging from canoes to rowboats and kayaks.
While the casual observer may not see this as an issue with so much space on waters surrounding the state, it proposes a real issue for boaters. The report went on to state that these unregistered craft appears to continue its growth, congesting waterways to accommodate the state’s permanent residency and visitors increase.