Stay sober and know the laws when operating a boat this holiday weekend, urges the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. There were 109 boating accidents and 11 boating related fatalities in 2011 in Georgia, and conservation rangers made 168 boating under the influence arrests.
“We know that many people will be on the water with family and friends during the upcoming holiday weekend,” says Col. Eddie Henderson, Chief of Law Enforcement. “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.Visit www.goboatgeorgia.com for course listings.
- Wear a life jacket. Children under 10 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat, but it’s recommended for EVERYONE to wear a life jacket.
- 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, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/safety .