Officials and Nonprofits Emphasize Boat Safety for Memorial Day Weekend, Summer Season

Allegory of Justice
Officials and organizations in states across the nation have been raising awareness during National Boating Safety Week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, and residents in some states may have a particular incentive to heed warnings.

Florida leads the nation in boat crashes, according to figures released May 8 by the U.S. Coast Guard. The state saw 581 accidents last year, which comes out to about one in seven of all boat crashes nationwide.

There were 70 fatal boat accidents in Florida in 2014, including 12 caused by drunk boat operators. Alcohol is the leading contributor to fatal boating accidents nationwide; in accidents with a known primary cause, alcohol is listed as a factor in about 16% of boating fatalities.

Unsurprisingly, small, landlocked states had fewer accidents in 2014, the Coast Guard said; Vermont had only five. Ocean access doesn’t correlate with number of accidents across the board, however, as Hawaii had only nine accidents last year, one more than South Dakota.
Tips for Safe Boating
So what can boaters do to stay safe as they take to oceans, lakes and rivers this summer?

As mentioned above, alcohol is to blame in a large portion of fatal boating accidents. As relaxing as it may be to crack open a beer while out on the boat, not drinking while boating is an important safety measure.

Boat owners should also make sure to have regular safety checks performed, take boating safety classes and permit only qualified adults to operate their boats. Weather conditions can change rapidly out on the water, so it’s important to check conditions just before a boating trip and have emergency supplies and equipment on board in case of a sudden storm. It’s also a good idea to leave a float plan (a planned route) with someone at home or at the marina in case the boat becomes disabled.

And, of course, all boaters should know that life jackets save lives. Boats must have at least one life jacket for each person aboard to meet U.S. Coast Guard guidelines.

Florida Woman Charged With DUI Manslaughter After Crashing SUV With Nine Unrestrained Kids Inside

A Florida woman appeared in court last Monday to answer drunk driving and manslaughter charges. The charges stem from a drunk driving accident that occurred on February 28th, which killed a toddler and injured nine more people.

According to CBS affiliate WTSP, 24-year-old Shameka Jones was driving northbound on I-75 when she veered into the shoulder, causing the Ford Expedition she was driving to go airborne and flip several times before coming to rest.

Nine children were ejected from the vehicle, and Jones’s two-year-old son Isaac Solomon was killed. There were also two other adult passengers in the vehicle.

News4Jax.com reports that in addition to the death of the toddler, the two adults and a six-month-old child were seriously injured, and the other seven children sustained mild injuries as a result of the crash. Police say that none of the children were wearing seat belts or restraints.

Florida Highway Patrol revealed that Jones’s blood alcohol content level was more than twice the legal limit, which is typically 0.08% in the United States. Drunk driving refers to a person operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the degree that the driver’s cognizance or physical abilities are affected.

In addition to the charges related to driving drunk, Jones also faces manslaughter charges and will likely face a myriad of other consequences — the full cost of a DUI in the United States is an average of $10,000 after attorney fees, fines, and court fees.

Jones’s four remaining children have been sheltered and are now in the custody of the county. Two of them are in foster homes and the other two are still recovering from their injuries in the hospital.