New boater safety legislation, sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller, passed the House 146-17 Thursday March 21 and now awaits signing from Gov. Nathan Deal. The bill previously passed the state Senate 50-0.
The bill tightens boating restrictions, including tougher boating-under-the-influence laws, boater education courses, and life jacket age requirements. The new legislation would increase age requirements on boat and personal watercraft operation. It also lowers the BUI blood-alcohol limit to .08, mirroring motor vehicle limits.
As warm weather approaches and Georgia families head back to the water, we remind boaters to operate all water crafts safely. Last year alone, boaters suffered 36 drownings, 12 fatalities, 53 injuries and 180 BUIs. The Murray Law Firm has represented numerous clients injured or killed in boating and water craft accidents and, on their behalf, we ask everyone to do their part to keep our waters safe this season.
The CDC offers boater safety tips to Reduce Your Risk:
Wear it. Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drownings and should be worn at all times by everyone on any boat.
Don’t Drink. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, and is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Not only is it dangerous to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s also illegal in every state in the United States.
It’s not just boat operators at risk from drinking while boating. Passengers are at greater risk of injury as well. In fact, 46% of all boating fatalities occurred when vessels were docked, anchored, or drifting. Due to sun exposure and heat, both operators and passengers are likely to become impaired more quickly, drink for drink, when on the water. So play it safe and avoid alcohol when you’re on a boat.
Take a Course. More than 7 out of every 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boating education courses teach the rules for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, and can help boat operators keep their passengers safe.
Get a Vessel Safety Check. The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations. For more information on the VSC Program, visit their web site: www.vesselsafetycheck.org
Know about carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that is emitted by all internal combustion engines, such as boat engines and onboard motor generators. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, but CO can kill in a matter of minutes, whether you are inside or outside of your boat. To avoid CO poisoning, be aware of the risk, ensure sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas.
The Murray Law Firm has extensive experience representing clients who have been injured in boating and swimming accidents and we offer our legal expertise, if needed. If you would like a free case evaluation, please call us toll free at 888.842.1616.