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Florida parasailing industry may get Sach-ed by over-regulation

Maria Sach's bill to increased regulation faces the Regulated Industries Committee this Thursday, February 13, 2014.
Maria Sach's bill to increased regulation faces the Regulated Industries Committee this Thursday, February 13, 2014.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

We have seen it time and again in Tallahassee no matter if it is in the Florida State House or the Florida's State Senate, no matter if introduced by a Democrat or a Republican - legislators attach emotion to pass bills. Regardless if it is unreasonable, it would seem every death in Florida must be avenged in the Florida legislature. Take for instance Maria Sachs' bill she has labeled the "White-Miskell Act" (SB320) which will be discussed on Thursday, February 13, 2014 in the Regulated Industries Committee. The act is named after Kathleen Miskell and Amber White who both tragically died in separate parasailing accidents.

Over the last 30 years there have been over 130 million harnessed parasailing trips/rides and another 23 million Gondola rides. Out of those 153 million trips over 30 years there have been 73 fatalities throughout the nation, not just Florida. By all accounts this is a highly safe activity to pursue, yet bureaucrats in Tallahassee are interested in scaring the public that the industry is not safe and need more regulation. The numbers simply do not justify the cause.

Often when a politician is faced with the reality the bill they are promoting is exposed as over regulation, the common response is something like, "If we can just save one life." it is a natural reaction when we hear of an untimely death that we feel we need to do something to prevent it from happening again - and often the public will take precautions or avoid those activities if they viewed it as a serious problem. In this case, there is zero evidence there is an epidemic of parasailing deaths regardless of what Maria Sachs or the general media would like you to believe.

Living life is a trade of risks. Plenty of Americans die each year even though activities they participate in or things they eat are heavily regulated by the government. Regulation is not the answer to pre-mature death or serious injury.

Whereas, everyone can empathize with the families of Miskell, White and the 71 other deaths that occurred over the last 30 years in the nation, the Florida legislature must use reason, not emotion when creating laws affecting residents and tourists. Both families had remedies available to them via the courts which they have done. In fact, both parasailing companies and the manufacturer of the harnesses which caused their deaths paid dearly.

Gondola rides, though not as popular and available, are much safer than parasailing as they have a more robust harness system and seating structure. Residents and tourists should do their own due diligence when participating in any activity as depending upon government regulation is not the panacea legislators like Maria Sachs suggest. It is also clear the parasailing industry has gotten safer over the years without Sachs' proposal. No company wants or welcomes tragic accidents such as with Miskell and White, and when they do happen, the industry works on its own to make rides safer.

Emotion has been used to pass red light cameras in the State of Florida even though the cameras have made drivers in the state less safe - creating more accidents and sending more people to the hospital than before they were installed.

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