Tips for drivers and boaters to ensure safety and prevent accidents

According to the American Automobile Association, approximately 44 million individuals are expected to travel this year during Memorial Day, a popular time for people to embark on boating adventures and enjoy the water.

Law enforcement officials in Georgia are issuing important reminders to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones during the holiday weekend.

Colonel Mike England with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources issued a stern warning, stating that there will be zero tolerance for BUI (Boating Under the Influence) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

Colonel William Hitchens from the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol emphasizes the importance of following traffic rules and regulations. He advises drivers to slow down and adhere to the speed limit. Additionally, he reminds everyone to wear their seat belt at all times and ensure that children are properly secured in a child restraint system.

Law enforcement officials from the state and local levels convened at Lake Oliver Marina for the annual “Belts and Jackets” Safety tour.

“During the Memorial Day holiday in Georgia, over the past five years, a staggering 35 percent of the individuals who lost their lives in vehicle crashes were found to be not wearing a seatbelt,” revealed Allen Poole, the director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

A seatbelt can make all the difference between life and death in the unfortunate event of a crash while driving on the highway.

Hitchens emphasizes the importance of wearing seatbelts to prevent injuries and fatalities. He highlights that lack of seatbelt use is a common factor in such accidents. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone in the car to buckle up every time they get in. Hitchens believes that this simple action can greatly reduce the severity of injuries sustained in car accidents.

In Georgia, it is mandatory for individuals aged 8 to 17 to wear a seat belt whenever they are in a vehicle, irrespective of their seating position. Additionally, children under the age of eight must be secured in an appropriate child safety seat.

It’s not just about fastening your seatbelt; it’s also about securing your life vest.

According to Georgia law, it is mandatory for children under the age of 13 to wear a life vest that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard when on any type of moving water vessel.

However, anyone, regardless of age, can utilize it as an additional safety measure, particularly if they feel uneasy in the water.

According to England, it is important not to succumb to peer pressure or challenges that may put your safety at risk. For instance, if you are not a strong swimmer, it is crucial to wear a life jacket rather than attempting to swim across a cove or jump off a bridge.

According to officials from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, it is advisable to familiarize oneself with boater laws and regulations, including the 100 Foot Law and the recently enacted 200 Foot Law.

“When boats are in operation, they must maintain a distance of 100 feet from objects in the water,” stated England. “However, when wakesurfing, this distance requirement increases to 200 feet from said objects.”

GNR officials have stated that it is mandatory to maintain idle speed if you are within 100 feet of any object, including structures, people, vessels, and so forth.

If you break the law, there is a chance that you will be stopped, ticketed, or even arrested.

Another safety tip to keep in mind is to avoid driving or operating a water vessel while under the influence.

According to Hitchens, law enforcement authorities arrested 388 individuals during the Memorial Day weekend in 2023.

“Of course, having one drink may not result in being charged, but it’s always wise to make responsible decisions. If you do choose to have a drink, ensure that you have a plan in place. Arrange for someone to pick you up and ensure that you can reach your destination safely,” he advised.

According to England, environmental stressors have a greater impact on individuals who consume alcohol or use drugs. These substances impair their functioning to a greater extent.

If you decide to drink and drive or drink and boat, the consequences can be severe. You may face arrest and end up in jail. Moreover, this reckless behavior puts not only yourself but also others at risk of injury or even death.

Law enforcement officials have announced their plans to intensify their efforts in monitoring and cracking down on unsafe driving and boating practices during the holiday weekend.

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MBS Staff
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