Game wardens urge boaters to use caution in face of increasing deaths

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OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) – With the significant increase in boating related accidents in Alabama which have resulted in a record number of deaths in the state since 1998, marine police and game wardens alike, are asking boaters to exercise extra caution.

“We are really stressing boating safety,” Tim Ward, Alabama Game Warden in Geneva County said. “It’s really coming down to boater error. It also comes down to boating under the influence. It will not be tolerated. If you are found to be on these waterways doing these things, it will be addressed. Now what’s causing all this? Officers right now statewide are decreased, which we are trying to remedy that situation by hiring more officers so it is an issue right now so we’re just asking the pubic to be aware and if you’re going to buy a boat and enjoy the waterways in the state of Alabama, please know what you’re doing. Get trained on that by other boaters and be courteous to other boaters; especially in the areas of high traffic and areas of night driving.”

“The number one rule of boating is the operator should maintain a proper lookout at all times, and if that operator is maintaining that proper lookout, then they wouldn’t be in a collision,” said Lt. Mark Fuller, Commander of the Central District with ALEA Marine Police. “He should not be traveling any faster than he can observe his surroundings.”

According to Alabama law, a person has to be at least 12 years old to obtain a boating license, but cannot operate a vessel alone until they are at least 14 years old. Ages 12-14 years old must have a 21-year-old on board who also has their boating license.

By Alabama law, you should have a life vest for each person on board.

Additionally, other items you should have when boating include a fire extinguisher, a visible distress signal such as a flare or flashlight, a sound-producing device; such as a horn or whistle and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Children under the age of 8, also are required to wear a life vest at all times when on a boat.

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