Conservation officers will not write tickets during the free safety checks on that day but will go through a safety checklist that will include working life jackets, fire extinguishers, navigation lights and battery covers. Officers also will be available to answer any questions about boat registrations and titles or water usage stamps.
SPRINGFIELD – Fifty years ago, Illinois began keeping boat accident statistics, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller is asking the public to help make the 2014 boating season one to remember, for being the safest since accident statistics first were recorded in 1964.
The IDNR is also launching a radio ad campaign throughout the state in both English and Spanish designed to remind everyone to “Wear It, Always Wear Your Life Jacket!” — the theme for National Safe Boating Week May 17-23.
While a variety of factors contribute to the fluctuation in the number of boating accidents, including weather and water levels, public education and preparedness remain top reasons why accidents and fatalities have dropped significantly on Illinois waters since the mid-1990s.
“We have come a long way in 50 years in improving safety with boating education and tougher laws, but we can still do better. Take a boating safety class, always wear your life jacket, and never drink before or while operating a boat,” Miller said. “With a little preparation and common sense, together we can make this boating season the safest in 50 years.”
In 2001, Illinois saw the fewest boating fatalities in recorded history with eight. In 2013, 50 people were injured and 14 people died as a result of 65 reported boating accidents on Illinois waters.
Illinois has seen the number of fatalities drop from an average of 46 per year in the 1960s to 19 per year since 2000. Much of the drop in the number of fatalities can be attributed to tougher laws and the availability of safety education classes.
On Friday, May 16, Illinois Conservation Police (CPOs) will be at locations throughout the state performing courtesy boat inspections to help prepare boat owners for the 2014 season. CPOs will not write tickets during the free safety checks on that day, but will go through a safety checklist that will include working life jackets, fire extinguishers, navigation lights and battery covers. Officers will also be available to answer any questions about boat registrations and titles or water usage stamps.
“Our job is to help people stay safe, and letting them know if their boat is in compliance and working properly without fear of a fine or ticket is a great way to start off the boating season,” Illinois Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez said.
The IDNR will offer courtesy boat inspections at the times and locations below:
Friday, May 16, 3 to 7 p.m.
Clinton - Clinton Lake – Mascoutin Boat Ramp
East Peoria – Illinois River - Spindler Marina Boat Ramps
Springfield - Lake Springfield – Lindsay Boat Launch (2-7 p.m.)
Friday, May 16, 2 to 7 p.m.
Kinmundy - Stephen A. Forbes State Park Lake – Main Boat Ramp
Murphysboro – Kinkaid Lake – Mount Joy Boat Launch
Carlyle – Carlyle Lake – Keyesport Boat Ramp