Florida Leads Nation in Boating Deaths

In the past decade, Florida has held some dubious distinctions-election debacles, the Elian Gonzalez saga, and the Terri Schiavo tragedy. Now it seems that the Sunshine State can add one more to its list: leading the nation in boating deaths. Last year, boating fatalities jumped 10% and the state has led the nation for the 16th time in the last 20 years. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Florida is a peninsula and is not land locked like most of the contiguous 48 states. However, this should not allow state officials to dismiss these boating statistics.
According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, 77 people died, 8 of them in Tampa Bay, in boating mishaps. The issue has drawn the attention of the Florida Legislature but at a Feb. 6 meeting of the House Committee on Conservation and State Lands the measure failed. Opponents of more boater education cited government largesse in declining to push education legislation in spite of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s statistics showing that increased boater education could save lives.