Summer boating season officially begins this weekend; safety on water encouraged

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This past weekend there were reports of two boating accidents on Tennessee waterways, with one death. A woman was killed and a man was injured when a houseboat exploded on a Tennessee river Sunday afternoon after refueling.
Carter Countians so love taking to the state’s abundant waters, and the freedom of the outdoors and the loosening of pandemic restrictions all point to a predictable jump in water-based activity and gatherings this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
It’s the job of every boat operator to make sure the water is a safe place for everyone on it. All boat owners need to take their ownership seriously and understand that the fun and freedom of boating also demand responsibility.
Speed boats, pontoons, fishing boats, canoes — all of them have a right to be on the water. Sometimes common sense and good manners often dictate how to act, but all boat operators should be familiar with the rules of the water.
Knowing the state-specific law is important, such as penalties for DWI violations, one of the top factors in boating accidents. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine, vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat under the influence or drugs is illegal in Tennessee, and wildlife officers will be out en masse this weekend to ensure the safety of the boating public.
Life jackets save lives and are as important as coolers and sunscreen when it comes to boating.
Along with making sure to be well-versed on the operation of the boat and knowing safety procedures, boat operators must be aware of their surroundings, including nearby swimmers or water-skiers, rafts, docks and threatening weather.
Although waterways are much safer than roadways in Tennessee, in 2020 there were 32 boating fatalities, the most in 37 years which came on the heels of a record-low in 2019. There have been eight fatalities thus far this year.
The Tennessee Boating Incident Statistical Report for 2020 reported the most common type of boat involved in an accident was an open motherboard, and the most common operation during an incident was recreational cruising. 
The TWRA reports a noticeable increase in boating traffic during the past year and a boom in the use of paddle craft, such as kayaks and paddle boards throughout the state. PFDS are a requirement on kayaks and state up paddle craft.
If you’re lucky enough to have landed a new boat or already own one or two, keep in mind that the joy of boating can turn tragic with one bad decision. Taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe outing. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.
It’s just the beginning of the boating season; let’s all do our part to make sure everyone on the water has a safe and enjoyable summer. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox