Floirda Leads The Nation In Boat Related Fatalities

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The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has just released it's annual boating fatality statistics.

And for the 16th year out of the last 20, Florida yet again tops the list.

Florida is known for it's beautiful weather, wildlife and water sports. But a new study in the Sunshine State shows if you're not careful, the fun and games can turn deadly.

New statistics show Florida again leads the nation in the number of boating fatalities.

"We have a continued concern because out boating fatality numbers are higher this year than they were last year," said Richard Moore of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Chuck Shields has been around boats his entire life. And in those years he's seen a number of horrific accidents.

"I've seen quite a few accidents I've seen people thrown overboard basically without any safety gear on, luckily the boat didn't run over them," said Shields Marina owner Chuck Shields.

Of the 77 people killed on Florida waters last year, 85% involved operators with no formal safety training.

Right now there are no laws in the State of Florida that require drivers over the age of 21 to take boater education classes.

And state officials believe that's the main reason the number of fatalities are still rising.

"You can walk away with some good ideas on how to avoid being in one of those bad jams that could result in you or somebody else on your boat being injured or killed," said Richard Moore.

"We have to pay attention and everybody's out there to have a good time and I am too, and I fish a lot and everything but you've got to pay attention or it's going to hurt somebody," said Trey Woolington, who's been driving boats for as long as he can remember.

The Conservation Commission has approved a plan to phase in mandatory boater education requirements over the next 11 years.

And while the plan did not pass legislation this year, a spokesperson says the commission hopes to present the plan to the Florida legislature next year.