The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 16-22 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week. Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.
LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.
Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator. LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long. For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.
Alcohol use is another leading cause of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water. Alcohol consumption impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road. Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.
LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower. LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide. For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.
Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program. States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.
LDWF initiated the state’s boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 75,000 boaters during that time. Louisiana has lowered the number of fatalities per 100,000 registered boats from 12 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2013 and 5.9 in 2014.
In 2014 Louisiana reported 18 boating fatalities, which is the second lowest number ever recorded. In 2013 Louisiana reported 15 fatalities, which was the record low for boating fatalities ever recorded. So far in 2015 Louisiana has reported nine fatalities.