Following a successful National Safe Boating Week and a Memorial Day weekend with zero boating fatalities, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has released the 2022 Boating Accident Statistical Report, while also reminding visitors and tourists alike that a life-jacket could save their lives.
“We had fewer boating accidents in Florida in 2022 than we did in 2021 but fatalities statewide were up,” said Lt. Col. Brian Smith, Acting Director for the FWC Division of Law Enforcement. “I am proud of the effort our officers and boating and waterways staff put into getting boating safety messaging out to the public throughout the year, and my hope is we will see both of these statistics decrease next year.”
Florida had 735 boating accidents in 2022, 16 fewer than in 2021. A total of 65 people lost their lives in these accidents, five more than the previous year. Since 2003, falls overboard have been the leading type of fatal accident, with drowning as the leading cause of death.
Of the drowning victims, 81% were not wearing a life jacket.
Today’s boaters can choose from several models of light and comfortable, inflatable belt-pack or over-the-shoulder life jackets. The FWC recommends exploring the different types of life jackets available to find the best fit for your needs through their website's boating page here, selecting "Safety-Education" and then "Wear-It-Florida."
“Accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly, and boaters might not have time to grab their life jacket before finding themselves in the water,” said Lt. Nicholas Korade, FWC Boating and Waterways Section. “The message is clear, ‘Life Jackets Save Lives.’”
According to the 2022 Boating Accident Statistical Report, the primary causes of all reported boating accidents (almost half, at 43%) were improper lookout or attention and operator inexperience. The FWC warns that all vessel operators are responsible for always keeping 360-degree awareness since dangers are not always located ahead.
Operator inexperience can be attributed to the operator’s limited time or experience with the vessel, the area, or the weather. Lack of boater education was also a contributing factor in accidents.
“The number of Boating Safety Education Cards issued in 2022 has tripled since 2010, but 45 of the operators involved in fatal accidents and 515 of the 926 operators in reportable accidents did not have formal boating education,” said Korade. “The FWC encourages all boaters, regardless of age or experience, to take a boating safety course for the safety of themselves and everyone on the water with them.”
Florida is recognized as “The Boating Capital of the World” and leads the nation with over 1 million registered vessels across the state in 2022. The FWC is responsible for reviewing, analyzing, and compiling boating accident data for the state. Its statistical report details boating accidents and their causes.
To view a copy of the 2022 Boating Accident Statistical Report Book in its entirety, click here.
The FWC recently responded to an 8-foot gator attacking a dog in Martin County; to read the full story, click here.
Article by Rachael Volpe