TAMPA, Fla. — National Safe Boating Week runs from May 22- May 28 and the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission wants to make sure you are safe on the water, with Memorial Day just a week away.
A recently released report from FWC shows the number of boating accidents per year is on the rise in Florida.
In 2020, FWC reported 836 boating accidents in the Sunshine State. That is the highest in nine years and above the average of 722.
There were also thousands of more registered vessels in Florida last year.
FWC says almost half of the boating accidents last year were because of crashes and 44% of those were because the operator was not paying attention.
“National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28 and we want to encourage boaters to boat safely while enjoying Florida’s year-round boating season,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s Boating and Waterways section leader. “Reminding people to be safe and slow down is our top priority. Nothing can ruin an enjoyable and memorable experience on the water faster than a boating accident. Life-changing tragedies often happen because individuals choose to operate a boat while distracted or, worse yet, impaired. Those tragedies are preventable."
“FWC law enforcement officers will be doing their part to ensure the safety of Florida’s recreational boaters,” Beaton added.
Fatalities on the water are also up in Florida. FWC reported 79 boating deaths in 2020, up from 65 the year before and the highest in five years.
Pinellas County ranked fourth for the number of boating accidents in the state, behind Monroe, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
The report shows the most common reason for those accidents in Pinellas County was the driver not paying attention or proper look-out and the most common type of accident was a crash with another boat. There were four deaths in Pinellas County on the water.
FWC also says 69% of drivers involved in deadly boating accidents across the state did not have proper boating education.
To report people who are boating dangerously, call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
You can find safety tips and other boating information by clicking here.