The 2013 boating season is upon us as we near Memorial Day weekend.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials stress the importance of safety this weekend on local waters. “We want all our boaters to enjoy this holiday weekend and have a great time, but we also want them to boat responsible and stay safe,” stated TWRA Officer Nick Luper. “Each year we have boating accidents and fatalities on this first big weekend of the season and our officers will be out day and night in hopes we can help keep them from happening.” Last season the United States Coast Guard reported boating-related fatalities decreased from 758 to 651 which is the lowest number on record. “I believe the decrease is due to the overall increase in education and enforcement efforts nationwide. State and federal agencies as well as the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators are working like never before to bring these numbers down,” Luper said.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be patrolling local waterways checking that vessels have the proper safety equipment needed. Those items include sufficient lifejackets for all passengers, a Type IV throwable device, and a fire extinguisher are the most important. Officers will also be checking for proper registration. TWRA reports that locally there has been an increase in Boating Under the Influence arrests in the last two years and efforts will continue to identify impaired boat operators during the 2013 season. “Some boaters have a false sense of security when they drink and boat. They think that just because they are not operating a vehicle that they will be ok,” stated Luper. “In fact on the water, boat operators who consume alcohol are also affected by stressors such as the sun, noise, vibration, and heat which actually intensifies the effects of their impairment.” TWRA says that the best away to avoid a BUI is to have a sober operator.
If you see anyone on the water that you believe is creating an unsafe environment for themselves or other boaters, TWRA asks that you report it to the Region III Office at (931) 484-9571.