What are you doing for the Memorial Day weekend? If it involves heading to a local lake, you will be joining thousands on the water to celebrate. When making your plans, be sure to include time to review rules and regulations of safe boating.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division there were 112 boating incidents and 16 boating-related fatalities in 2013 in Georgia, and conservation rangers made 160 boating under the influence arrests.
“Your attention to safety rules and alertness to other people on the water can save lives,” said Col. Eddie Henderson, division director. “It is your role to be as safe as possible so you are in control of your vessel and anything unexpected that happens on the water.”
Following are some of the top safety rules:
- Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat. Georgia law changed in 2013 to move the blood alcohol content level to .08 to match Georgia driving law.
- Take a boating safety course. Beginning July 1, 2014 all boat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1998 are required to have completed a DNR-approved boater safety course before operating a motorized vessel on Georgia waters. Visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/education for course information.
- Wear a life jacket. Children under 13 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving vessel, but it’s highly recommended for EVERYONE to wear a life jacket.
- Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment. Check 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.
About Safe Boating in Georgia
For more information about boating in Georgia, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating . Several videos on boating-related laws in Georgia, including the boater education requirement effective July 1, are available at www.georgiawildlife.com/new-boating-regulations-2013.