AUSTIN — In 2016, there were more than 35 boating fatalities and hundreds of boat accidents and injuries on Texas waters. As part of National Safe Boating Week May 20-26, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department boater education and law enforcement staff are reminding Texans to be safe Memorial Day weekend and all summer long by following the law and taking basic safety precautions while on the water.
One of the main concerns during Memorial Day weekend and throughout the boating season is the dangerous and illegal consumption of alcohol by drivers on the road and on the water. Last year, Texas game wardens arrested 155 people who were operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent, an offense that can lead to fines and the loss of license, not to mention the increased risk of accidents or fatalities on the water.
“Drinking and boating do not mix,” said Cody Jones, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “Not only is it the law, refraining from drinking alcohol while operating a vessel could save your life and the life of your loved ones.”
While boating accidents can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including drinking while boating, surviving an accident on the water boils down to one important precaution: wearing a lifejacket. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
“Life jackets are important and they save lives – bottom line,” said Tim Spice, TPWD Boater Education Manager. “If you are uncomfortable around the water you should have a life jacket on, and if you’re under 13 it’s required by law.”
State law requires that a personal floatation device is available for each occupant of the boat, but only children under 13 years of age are mandated by the law to wear one while the boat or paddle craft is underway or drifting. Despite this law, last year in Texas more than 560 citations were issued for children not wearing a life jacket.
Basic boating safety precautions like…
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