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Are boating accidents common in Florida?

Although Ocala is not directly on the water, it is only a short drive from either coast. With the Gulf of Mexico only about 50 miles away and the Atlantic Ocean just about 75 miles away, Ocala-area residents have easy access to both bodies of water. Like many other people in Florida, Ocala residents can enjoy a variety of marine activities including boating, fishing or skiing.

Because much of Florida is a peninsula, it has the most registered recreational boats of any state in the country. Marion County alone has almost 18,000 registered water vessels. However, the state also has the highest number of boating accidents. In 2012, for example, Florida had more than 870,000 registered recreational water vessels and 662 reportable accidents. The next closest state was California, which had just under 818,000 registered boats and 365 reported accidents.

This data is reported each year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Commission estimates that in addition to the registered boaters, Florida has up to one million other non-registered vessels on its waterways.

In 2013, Florida had 736 reported recreational boating accidents, which led to 420 injuries. Those accidents also resulted in 62 fatalities, 52 of which were male victims. Drowning was the leading cause of death following a boating accident. Alcohol or drugs factored into only about 15 percent of these boating fatalities.

With so many people enjoying boating in Florida, accidents are inevitable. Just like other motor vehicle accidents, though, many boating accidents are preventable. When a boating accident is caused by someone’s negligence, that person will be legally responsible for damages to other people. Likewise, a fatal boating accident can result in a wrongful death claim by the victim’s family.

For people in Ocala and elsewhere in Florida, boating is a common and enjoyable activity. To keep it from becoming a deadly activity, boaters should always make safety their top priority.

Source: City of Ocala, Florida, “Guidelines For Common Residential Code Violations,” accessed on Oct. 31, 2014

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