I commend The Union-Recorder for their editorial in the May 28th edition – ‘Summer boating, summer fun, summer safety.’ This editorial will help prevent tragedies by sharing important changes in the law.

The lake is more and more crowded with boats and personal watercraft and it is normal for owners to share boating duties with family members and friends that need to be aware of safety regulations.

A little bit of safety can go a long way! So, before you let anyone use your boat or PWC, ensure you have a designated sober captain; check lights, don’t overload, see that everyone under 13 is wearing a life jacket, and, that there are enough jackets onboard for everyone. The captain should also be told to keep a safe distance and slow to idle speed within 100 feet of swimmers, docks, boats, marinas, etc.

2013 Law Changes

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) – the Blood Alcohol Concentration has changed from .10 to .08 and the mandatory penalties have increased to mirror those for automobiles.

Children and Personal Watercraft (PWC – Jet Ski) – the law continues to be that a person 16 and older can operate a PWC. The changes are for younger PWC operators. Children between 12 and 15 can only operate a PWC if: 1) they have taken a boating education course, or 2) are on the PWC with an adult, 18 or older, (400 yards is no longer legal).

Child Lifejacket – The required age for a child to wear a personal flotation device was increased from under 10 years of age to under13 years of age.

I would like to thank the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department for patrolling the lake to ensure our safety. And a big thanks to The Union-Recorder for reminding us that we are responsible for safety when on the lake.

Georgia’s Boating Safety Handbook can be downloaded at: http://boat-ed.com/ga/handbook - or at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources websit, www.dnr.state.ga.us.

I wish everyone a safe and fun summer.

 

Sandy Baxter

Baldwin County

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