SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) reminds boaters to use caution on the water this Fourth of July. DBW’s boating accident data shows that more boating accidents occur during this holiday than any other. Waterways are crowded and people boat in groups or with many people aboard their vessels. Distractions are numerous.
“Operator inattention is the number one cause of boating accidents,” said DBW’s Acting Director Sylvia Ortega Hunter. “Designating another person on board to act as an additional lookout for other boats, obstacles, or people in the water, can give the operator more reaction time to avoid an accident.”
The following are other tips that can greatly decrease the chances of a boater being involved in a boating accident:
- Avoid alcohol. Everyone who drinks alcohol on board–not just the operator–is at risk. Intoxicated passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or cause the vessel to capsize.
- Wear a life jacket. There must be a properly-fitted life jacket on the vessel for each person. Children under the age of 13, all personal watercraft riders, paddle-boarders, and anyone being towed behind a boat are required by law to wear a lifejacket.
- Know some basic rules of the road. Steer to the right when approaching another vessel head on, and remember that in a crossing situation involving two power-driven boats, the boater on the right has the right-of-way.
- Operate your boat at a reasonable speed. Boats do not have brakes. Operators need to allow for adequate stopping distances to avoid accidents.
- Properly use water ski flags when skiers, wakeboarders or tubers are down. Improper use of flags can be dangerous not only to the person in the water, but to passing boats as well. A ski line entangled in the propeller of a passing boat can result in a deadly accident.
For more safety tips or to view California’s boating laws, please visit www.BoatResponsibly.com. Remember, “If it’s your boat, it’s your responsibility”.
Reporting a Boating Accident in California
State law requires boaters involved in accidents to file a written report with DBW when a person dies, disappears or requires medical attention beyond first aid. A report is also required when an accident results in damage to a vessel or other property exceeding $500 or there is a complete loss of a vessel. Boating Accident Report Form.
DBW promotes on-the-water safety and helps develop convenient public access to the waterways through programs funded by vessel registration fees, boating fuel tax dollars and boating facility construction loan payments.
Effective July 1, 2013, the Department of Boating and Waterways will become a Division under the Department of Parks and Recreation. The merger is part of Governor Brown’s Reorganization Plan to consolidate and simplify the State’s organizational structure.
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