What Causes the Most Boating Accidents in Tampa Bay?

In 2016, 4,463 boating accidents occurred throughout the United States. Recreational boating accidents took 701 lives, injured 2,902 others, and caused around $49 million in property damages. Tampa Bay is a prime destination for boaters in Florida and around the country. Tampa’s waterways see a surge in boating activity in the spring and summer months – and a surge in accidents and injuries. Before you hit the water in Tampa Bay this summer, find out the most common causes of boating accidents to avoid trouble.

Alcohol Use While Boating

Alcohol is the number one cause of fatal boating accidents according to the U.S. Coast Guard. It accounted for 15% of boating-related deaths in 2015. Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law in Florida. The same maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) level applies to boating as it does to driving in the state. Boaters are legally too intoxicated to operate a vessel with BACs of 0.08% or higher. A lower BAC can still constitute drunken boating if it’s enough to impair the operator. Never drink and boat in Tampa Bay. It’s not only breaking the law, but it significantly increases your risk of a fatal boating accident.

Lack of Boating Safety Knowledge

In the Coast Guard’s report, 77% of boating deaths occurred where the operator had no boating safety instruction. National-approved boating safety education can teach boaters life-saving tips and techniques on Tampa Bay’s waterways, such as how to keep a proper lookout, maintain the vessel, and avoid collisions. An education course can also help boaters know how to react to save lives in an emergency, as well as what safety equipment one should always keep on board.

Operator Inattention or Distraction

Operator inattention is the number one primary contributing factor to boating accidents. Operators must pay strict attention to the task at hand at all times to safely maneuver, steer, and park a boat in Tampa Bay. An operator who is on the phone, chatting, eating, drinking, falling asleep, or otherwise is distracted is not dedicating his/her full attention to the water. This can lead to improper lookout, speeding, and preventable collisions with other boats or water users. A negligent operator could be liable if he or she causes a boating accident in the Gulf.

Incompetent Boaters

You can be just 14 years old and legally operate a personal watercraft on Florida’s waters, as long as you have a Florida Boating Safety Education ID card. Unfortunately, not all boat operators take their responsibilities on the water seriously. Inexperienced and incompetent boaters may not know how to steer a vessel or prevent collisions – resulting in preventable accidents. Incompetent boaters may be liable for the accidents and injuries they cause in Tampa Bay.

Machinery Failure

Failing boating equipment and machinery are two other top-five causes of accidents. It is up to a boat operator to properly maintain the vessel and all its parts before hitting the waterway. Negligent boat maintenance can lead to parts rusting, growing algae, or falling apart. Failing machinery while boating can lead to the operator losing control of the vessel, colliding with other vessels, and crashing. If the machinery failure stemmed from a defective or dangerous boat part, the manufacturer of the product could be liable. Otherwise, it is up to the boat’s owner to properly maintain the vessel.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident in Tampa Bay, contact the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Williams Law, P.A.