On Memorial Day weekend one thing is certain, thousands of boaters and anglers will be out enjoying the holiday on state waters, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Last year there were 158 boating accidents and 13 boating incident related fatalities in Georgia, and conservation rangers made 177 boating under the influence arrests.
“For many people, the holiday weekend signals the perfect time to be out on the water with family and friends,” says Col. Terry West, DNR chief of Law Enforcement. “However, we want to remind everyone that public waters will be very crowded, and in an effort to keep everyone safe, we encourage boat operators to stay sober and alert and know Georgia’s boating laws before heading out on the water.”
DNR offers the following safety rules for boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators:
- Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat.
- Take a boating safety course. To take a boating safety course, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com .
- Wear a life jacket. Children under 10 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat.
- Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment. Check on the capacity plate for the maximum weight or the maximum number of people the boat can safely carry.
- Use navigation lights at ALL times when on the water at night. Check lights before it gets dark.
- Watch your speed. The 100-foot law applies to ALL size vessels and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the road.
PWC operators also should be aware of these additional safety rules:
- Do NOT jump the wake of another boat.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and make sure you stay well clear of other vessels.
- Know Georgia’s age requirements for PWC operation.
- Make sure everyone who operates your PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. As the owner, you can be held responsible.
For more information on boating safety, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com or call a DNR Law Enforcement office: Northwest Georgia (770) 769-9680; Northeast Georgia (770) 535-5499; Central East Georgia (706) 595-4211; Central West Georgia (478) 751-6415; Southeast Georgia (912) 685-2145; Southwest Georgia (229) 430-4252; Coastal Georgia (912) 264-7237.