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Accredited online

safe boating course launched

The American Safety Council has a new online safe boating education course specifically designed for Florida boaters. The course was launched to coincide with the start of Florida’s busy summer boating season.

“It’s important to realize that most boating accidents involve individuals with no formal boating safety education,” says Bob Proechel, president of the American Safety Council. “Many boating accidents can be prevented if new boaters make safety a priority, which includes taking a boating safety education course prior to venturing out on Florida’s waterways.”

Selected boating statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics were available):

• 48 percent of reported accidents were primarily caused by either carelessness/inattention or violation of a navigation rule.

• Individuals most likely to be operating a vessel involved in an accident are males between the ages of 22 and 50 who have 100 hours or more of boating experience, but no formal boater education (as determined by operator statistics).

Florida requires anyone 21 years of age and under who operates a vessel powered by 10 hp or more to pass a boater safety course and have in his/her possession photographic identification and a boater safety identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The American Safety Council’s online basic boating safety course is approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and is recognized by the United States Coast Guard. The $14.95 course is fully accredited and meets the State of Florida’s requirements for basic boater safety education.

The course is available online at www.floridaboatingcourse.com. For information, contact the ASC at (800) 732-4135.

Pinellas County No. 1

for boating fatalities

Pinellas County reported the highest number of fatalities in Florida, seven in all, during a 2004 Florida Boating Accident Statistical Report.

More than 50 percent of all Florida boat operators involved in a fatal boating accident reportedly had over 100 hours of boating experience.

The Coast Guard report also indicated that according to accident frequency statistics, the most likely time for boaters to be involved in a boating accident is during the months of March, April, May, June and July.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Tampa urges boaters to operate their vessel in a safe manner at all times. www.uscgboating.org

Intoxicated master

gets 2 years probation

An Alabama resident and master of an inland towing vessel was sentenced May 19 for a January 2004 incident where he was found to be operating in U.S. waters under the influence of alcohol.

Daniel L. Ferrell, 63, of Atmore, Ala., was sentenced by Judge James J. Brady of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, La., to serve two years probation, 100 hours of community service and will be required to participate in an alcohol assessment program.

On Jan. 16, 2004, Ferrell was piloting the City of Port Allen when it struck the Brusly Railroad Lift Bridge on the Port Allen-Morgan City alternate route waterway. Investigators from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Baton Rouge who responded to the initial incident tested Ferrell for alcohol. Ferrell failed the test, blowing a .235 on the Breathalyzer.

Keys Web site

provides hurricane info

The official visitor Web site of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the agency responsible for tourism marketing in the Florida Keys & Key West, has established new information sections designed to protect the health and welfare of travelers to the Florida Keys.

A new “Visitor Safety” section provides phone numbers and links to law enforcement, medical facilities and an exclusive toll-free multilingual visitor assistance line, sponsored by the TDC.

A special “Hurricane Info” component provides details on how the Keys tourism industry interfaces with local emergency management officials in the event a tropical cyclone threatens the island chain.

The new Keys pages are linked to the home page via highly visible icons at www.fla-keys.com.