FWC monitoring boaters during holiday weekend

Florida recorded 628 boating accidents in 2018, down 18 percent from a year earlier, according a recent report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Additionally, there were 59 boating-related deaths, which was also a decrease.

FWC says its “2018 Boating Accident Statistical Report” is used to encourage boaters to focus on simple, effective steps to make the hobby safer.

People falling overboard continues to be the leading type of fatal accident, according to the report. Drowning is the leading cause of death. FWC spokesperson Bekah Nelson says most accidents and injuries could be prevented if boaters pay attention to their surroundings and use basic safety measures, especially as Florida’s waterways get busier.

“Once the weather gets great and it’s nice and sunny and heats up, a lot more people go out and start boating. Florida is the boating capital of the world. So, it’s definitely a very popular boating area. We want people to have fun, but we also want them to be safe,” said Bekah Nelson,  with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Nearly 30 percent of the 2018 accidents involved collisions between vessels. This week is National Safe Boating Week, and FWC officers will be on the water over Memorial Day weekend making sure boaters have the necessary life jackets, whistles and other required safety equipment.

Florida leads the nation, with more than 950,000 registered vessels in the state.