Conservation police are planning additional patrols for the boating season
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police are stepping up patrols and reminding boaters to play it safe while on the water as part of National Week boating safety, from May 22 to 28.
âAs we look forward to observing Memorial Day and the start of the summer outdoor recreation season, our busy Illinois boating season is already underway and we want boaters to be safe on the water. ‘water all year round,’ says Colleen Callahan, Director of IDNR. “IDNR Conservation Police will be on the water with you, reminding boat operators to be safe and sober, and reminding everyone on board to keep safety in mind.”
Last year, conservation police responded to 81 boating accidents resulting in 36 injuries and 21 deaths. The U.S. Coast Guard said drowning was the reported cause of death in the United States in four out of five boating deaths in 2019, and that 86% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Main boating safety reminders:
â¢ Wear a life jacket. Wearing a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) is one of the simple things you can do, whether you’re alone in a kayak, paddling with your family in a canoe, or riding a canoe. larger boat on a busy lake or river. PFDs are mandatory on jet skis and wave runners. PFDs for everyone on the boat are mandatory and children under 13 must wear a life jacket whenever a boat is underway.
â¢ Motor boat operators should ensure that all required equipment is on board, including a properly charged fire extinguisher, working horn and whistle, working navigation lights and flares.
â¢ A new federal law requires engine cut-off switches (ECOS) and ties or lanyards that shut off the boat’s engine if the boat operator is moved off the helm, preventing fleeing boats from causing damage or harm. injuries.
â¢ Stay sober. Just like driving a car or truck, you cannot drive a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Conservation police arrested more than 100 boaters on charges of operating under the influence (YES) last year.
âThe best way for boaters to enjoy their time on the water this summer is by following the rules,â said Timothy Tyler, IDNR’s director of law enforcement. âOur Conservation Police officers will be diligent in enforcing the sober boating law. Anyone operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be subject to arrest. The message for boat operators is simple – and worth repeating: if you drink alcohol, you lose. “
Boaters must also obey laws regarding reckless operations, overloading a boat, observing restricted and wake-free areas, and obeying other boating rules, Tyler adds.
Illinois Boating Laws and Responsibilities Manual contains details on what boaters can and cannot do in Illinois. Click here to read it.