Opinion: Boaters Must Beware of “Distracted Boating”

Florida is undoubtedly one of the most boater friendly states in the union. While the vast majority of the state’s boating outings go off without a hitch, every year dozens of Floridians are hurt and killed in boating accidents. Recently, a Florida news publication called on the state’s boaters to step up their safety efforts, including ensuring not to boat while distracted. 

Ed Killer, writing for TCPalm.com, wrote a column about Florida boating last weekend, and declared that distracted boating is the next looming threat to Florida boaters. Citing the fact that in 2018, 59 people died in Florida boating accidents, and another 307 were injured, Killer uses the column to give a series of safety tips to those setting off in the state’s waterways. 

One of the central points on Killer’s list is that boaters should beware of operating the vessels while distracted. He cites the maritime crash that killed Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez, and another occurred in the same area and killed four people just three years later. Killer speculated as to whether distracted boating may have played a role in the tragedies.

Those operating all kinds of heavy machinery should always maintain their attention firmly fixed on those tasks related to safely operating the machinery. Despite the fact that boats tend to be used far more recreationally than other kinds of vehicles, they are no exception to this rule. 

If Florida continues to see dozens of boating deaths per year, perhaps state authorities will undertake a boating while distracted awareness campaign.