In a state that is almost completely surrounded by water and contains thousands of waterways within its borders, you can expect that boating is a popular activity in Florida. In fact, according to statistics from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), the state ranks #1 for registered vehicles. There are more than 1 million water vessels of all sizes and types that are licensed for recreational purposes. Of course, this data also puts Florida among the Top US states for boating accidents. Every year, there are almost 850 total reportable incidents, leading to 70 fatalities and approximately 470 injured victims.
Responsible boaters are well aware of the laws, navigation rules, and safety tips for operating a motorized watercraft. However, it is worthwhile to focus on another type of casualty: Accidents involving the fun water toys towed behind the boat. There are additional rules to follow, and these activities open a whole new world of safety issues. A Miami boating accidents attorney can assist if you or a loved one was hurt in an on-the-water incident, though some tips are useful for avoiding them.
FWCC uses the term Towed Water Sport Mishap to describe accidents that happen when a motorized water vessel is transporting another nonmotorized vehicle. Water sports include water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and barefoot skiing, in which the person is being towed or surfing the wake created by the motorized craft. However, parasailing and activities that cause the rider to rise out of the water are also considered towed water sports.
Towed water sports are exciting and a great way to cool off for Floridians, particularly children. There are two key risks to keep in mind:
- The operator of the towing vessel must follow all navigational rules to ensure the safety of the people on board AND the person being towed.
- Other boaters put the towed water sports and their riders in danger when they do not recognize that a vessel is towing something several yards behind it.
Safety Tips for Towed Water Sports
The most important rule to follow is one that applies to all boating activities, and it involves alcohol. Never operate a watercraft if impaired, and avoid riding on towed water sports after drinking. Plus:
- There must be at least three people involved when towing water sport: The boat operator, the person riding – and a spotter whose job it is to keep a lookout. The operator cannot monitor while driving.
- Riders are required by law to wear appropriate PFDs when being towed and keep in mind that not all life jackets are approved for this use.
- Unless the device is built for multiple riders, people should go solo on towed water sports.
Talk to a Miami Boating Accidents Lawyer to Learn More
For more information on your rights, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA, to set up a no-cost consultation. You can call (305) 371-6000 or visit us online to reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.