National Safe Boating Week reminds Texans to stay safe on the water

 

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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