Sometimes, being near the top of a list isn’t a good thing. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 2015 boating statistics, Okaloosa County is ranked 12th out of the state’s 67 in “boating incidents.” These incidents included reported accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Sometimes, being near the top of a list isn’t a good thing.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 2015 boating statistics, Okaloosa County is ranked 12th out of the state’s 67 in “boating incidents.” These incidents included reported accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that with 873,507 registered recreational vessels, Florida has more boats than any other state. At the same time, the Sunshine State ranked at the top for the number of recreational boating accidents, with 581 in 2014.

In honor of National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27), here are some “By the Numbers” facts about boating safety.


Four Tips for Safe Boating

1. Wear a Flotation Device

Under Florida law, all vessels are required to have onboard a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person. The PFDs must be of the appropriate size for the intended wearer, be in serviceable condition, and within easy access.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 1-4 is kicking off its summer public education effort with its “WEAR IT Okaloosa” life jacket awareness program during May 21 - 27.

2. Take a Safe Boating Class

Flotilla 1-4 presents safe boating classes on a regular basis. You can also register for a class at http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=081-01-04

3. Get Your Vessel Inspected

You can sign up for a free vessel safety check at the Flotilla’s website at: http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=081-01-04

4. There’s an App for That

The U.S. Coast Guard has created a mobile app that is available in the iPhone App Store and in Google Play. The free app allows users to access the following features:

 

Find the latest safety regulations Request a vessel safety check Check your safety equipment File a float plan Navigation rules Find the nearest NOAA buoy Report a hazard Report pollution Report suspicious activity Request emergency assistance  


Major Boating Accidents since 2015

 

April 11, 2015: Kristy Marie Wise, 28, was seriously injured when she was struck by a powerboat while paddleboarding near the Shalimar Bridge. April 18, 2015: Aaron Venable was killed when the personal watercraft he was riding in the Choctawhatchee Bay hit a wave and he was ejected. Sep. 4, 2015: Mark Sellers, 46, was killed when he was ejected from his 20-foot Bullet boat after the vessel struck a navigational aid in the Choctawhatchee Bay near Bluewater Bay. March 18, 2016: Avery Hatchett, 22, was killed when the 28-foot Pursuit boat he was aboard struck the east jetty near Destin. Anna Sorokina, 22, was aboard the vessel as well and is still missing.  

Florida 2015 Vessel Registration and Accidents by County (Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Rank County Recreational Vessels Reportable Accidents Fatalities Injuries Property Damage

Miami-Dade 62,645 96 3 74 $3,012,964 Monroe 25,373 78 5 48 $646,824 Broward 41,201 57 5 42 $3,651,600 Lee 44,743 48 1 20 $248,800 Pinellas 46,767 46 2 4 $94,020 Palm Beach 37,028 41 3 15 $219,600 Collier 21,530 29 0 11 $168,320 Bay 17,282 20 1 11 $250,105 Martin 16,079 20 1 5 $350,100 Duval 26,278 19 2 3 $175,570 Sarasota 21,161 19 0 12 $484,510 Okaloosa 17,472 18 2 4 $94,020 21 Santa Rosa 13,961 9 2 2 $47,250

49 Walton 5,437 1 0 2 $0


Top 5 Causes of Reportable Boating Accidents (Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

No proper lookout/inattention Operator inexperience Machinery failure Excessive speed Carelessness/recklessness
Gender of Operator of Reportable Boating Accidents (Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

 

Male: 90 % Female: 8% Not known: 2%  


Number of registered vessels (recreational):

Top Ten States (Source: U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, based on 2014 statistics)

 

Florida: 870,749 California: 820,490 Minnesota: 808,744 Michigan: 795,875 Wisconsin: 613,516 Texas: 575,402 South Carolina: 466,589 New York: 456,909 Ohio: 449,541 North Carolina: 386,884  

Number of boating accidents (recreational): Top Ten States (Source: U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, based on 2014 statistics)

Florida: 685 California: 426 New York: 180 Texas: 146 North Carolina: 139 New Jersey: 123 Tennessee: 119 Missouri: 111 Maryland: 110 Ohio: 108