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Tag Archive | "boating safety"

Operation Dry Water emphasizes boating safety leading into holiday


Michigan DNR conservation officers again are participating in the national Operation Dry Water campaign, aimed at reducing the number of people boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs, keeping the water safe for everyone.

As the July 4th holiday nears, DNR conservation officers will focus on keeping boaters safe through heightened awareness and enforcement of “boating under the influence” laws.

It’s part of the Operation Dry Water campaign, June 29-July 1, in coordination with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other partners. The annual campaign starts before the holiday weekend, when more boaters take to the water and alcohol use increases.


Boating safety takes center stage during Operation Dry Water June 29-July 1, 2018, when Michigan DNR conservation officers focus on keeping boaters safe through heightened awareness and enforcement of “boating under the influence” laws.

“The best way to safely enjoy a day on the water is to avoid alcohol,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, Michigan’s boating law administrator. “Using alcohol impairs reaction time, balance and judgment. Please don’t put yourself and others at risk. Be smart and stay sober when boating.”

In Michigan, a person operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or having a blood alcohol content of .08 grams or more, can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500, community service and up to 93 days in jail. It also can result in loss of boating privileges for at least one year.

If a person is killed or injured due to a driver operating a boat while under the influence, the driver could be charged with a felony, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.

Boaters can do their part by:

Boating sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. The effects of alcohol and certain medications are increased on the water due to added stress factors such as the sun, heat, wind, wave motion and engine noise.

Wearing life jackets. Nearly 85 percent of drowning victims in the U.S. were not wearing life jackets.

Taking boating safety courses. The DNR recommends a safety course for anyone who plans to use a boat or personal watercraft. Convenient, affordable classes are offered at locations throughout the state and online.

Learn more about boating regulations, safety and where to find marinas at michigan.gov/boating. For more on Operation Dry Water, contact Lt. Pete Wright, 906-228-6561.

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Safety first, for fun times on the water


Safe boating week

Did you know there were 22 fatalities in Michigan last year from boating accidents? It’s National Safe Boating Week in America, and the The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is on board with the theme of this year’s campaign: “Ready, Set, Wear It.”

“One of our biggest concerns is making sure people understand the importance of wearing PFDs (personal flotation devices),” said Lt. Andrew Turner, the DNR’s boating law administrator. “The Coast Guard estimates that 80 percent of boating fatalities could be prevented by wearing life jackets.”

Though all boaters are required to have PFDs on board for all boat passengers, generally only those younger than 6 years old are required to actually wear them. “In an emergency, people don’t have time to find them and get them on,” Turner said. “Today’s PFDs are not the old bulky orange vests that everybody remembers as a kid. Now they’re lighter and more comfortable. They’re designed to be worn all the time. There are inflatables available now that are very low-profile, comfortable and suitable for many activities.”

Many, but not all activities, Turner continued. Personal watercraft operators, or people being towed behind vessels, such are skiers, are required by state law to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD, but inflatables are not approved for those and some other uses.

Boating is getting safer in Michigan, Turner said. Last year there were 20 fatal accidents—resulting in 22 fatalities—down from 32 fatalities five years earlier.
“I think we can directly link that trend to boating safety training,” Turner said.
A state law, passed in 2012, requires that anyone born after July 1, 1996, is required to attend (and be certified in) safe boating training in order to operate a motorboat. The change in the law, which once required only those younger than 16 years of age to be safety-trained, means that over time everyone who operates a motorboat will have received the training.

“The leading age group for boating accidents is people in their 50s,” Turner said. “We wouldn’t think of letting someone drive a car without driver’s education, but many people simply don’t consider getting boater’s safety training before operating a vessel.”

Boating safety training is available from a number of sources, including the DNR. Training is also available through county sheriffs’ departments (82 of Michigan’s 83 counties offer the training through their marine programs), volunteer groups, and online. The online option makes it easy for anyone, Turner said.

“There are two great programs – boat-ed.com and boaterexam.com – that allow people to earn their safety certification completely online,” Turner said. “Students can print their certificates when they successfully complete the course. There is a fee, but most people don’t mind paying it because of the convenience.”

Turner said boaters should familiarize themselves with safety equipment and make sure they have it and it is in good working order. Boats with a permanently installed fuel tank or enclosed compartments are required to have a fire extinguisher on board, for instance. The DNR also recommends that boaters have a marine radio, or at least a cell phone, to use if their vessel becomes disabled or they otherwise need assistance.

Boating under the influence remains a big issue for Michigan as well as the rest of the country. “It’s a serious concern,” said Turner, noting that about 10 percent of boating accidents list alcohol as a contributing factor. “Just as it is with motor vehicles, it’s dangerous and unlawful to operate a vessel under the influence.”

Turner said boaters should also keep a sharp eye out, and be aware that there are increasingly more personal watercraft (PWC) out on the water. PWCs, which make up only about 8 percent of the registered boats in Michigan, are involved in roughly a third of boating accidents.

“PWCs are fast, very maneuverable and can turn on a dime,” Turner said. “The operational characteristics of PWCs vary a great deal from traditional vessels and this underscores the importance of training,” Turner said.

Michigan is about as big a boating state as there is, Turner said. “We’re second only to Florida in terms of the number of registered vessels. We have tremendous resources. We want people to enjoy those resources but we want them to do it safely.”

For more information on boating safety or to find out about boating safety classes, visit www.michigan.gov/boating.

 

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