Who Has The Right of Way When Boating in Florida?

June 4, 2024 Criminal Defense

boat accident

In a crossing situation involving a stand-on vessel and a give-way vessel under Florida’s Inland Navigation Rules, the stand-on vessel has the right of way.

Under federal boating regulations, when two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side (the give-way vessel) shall keep out of the way. However, even the give-way vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel (the stand-on vessel) if necessary.

Key Points to Consider

  • Power-Driven Boats: This rule applies to situations involving two power-driven boats. Though right-of-way rules may apply to sailboats and other non-motorized vessels, other rules may also apply.
  • Head-to-head encounters: When encountering another vessel, both boats must change course to starboard to pass safely. This ensures that both ships occupy the port (left) side.
  • Maintain Course and Movement: A stand-on vessel generally maintains its course and momentum, allowing the give-way vessel to maneuver

Other Considerations

  • Visibility: Colored lights displayed on vessels at night or in low visibility conditions can identify stand-on and give-way vessels. Red light indicates starboard side and green light indicates port side. The stand-on will typically see the give-way vessel’s red light.
  • Responsibility to avoid collision: The stand-on vessel also has a duty to take steps to avoid collision if the situation presents the imminent possibility of a collision.
  • Local Laws: Some Florida waterways may have additional local right-of-way laws in addition to these inland navigation laws. Always check local signs or consult with officials about specific waterway guidelines.

An understanding of right-of-way laws is essential to safe navigation. Here are some more tips to stay safe in the water:

  • Caution: Stay alert when operating the vessel and always observe your surroundings.
  • Communicate with other vessels: Use VHF radio or voice signals to communicate with other vessels, especially in busy waterways.
  • Follow Travel Rules: Know all applicable travel laws, including those specific to Florida.
  • Take a boating safety course: Completing a boating safety course can provide you with the knowledge and skills related to safe and responsible boating.

By following these tips and understanding right-of-way laws, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on Florida waterways.

Experienced Vessel Homicide Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

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