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Following boating rules can prevent accidents, save lives Submitted: 07/15/2014
Rhinelander - Lakes in the Northwoods get crowded in the summer. "In Wisconsin, we have about 615,000 motor boats that we register in the state. That doesn't include standup paddle boards and kayaks," said DNR Warden Jim Jung. "When we add all the visitors that come to Wisconsin, there's a lot of boat traffic." DNR wardens believe most accidents happen because people aren't following boating rules. Those small decisions can turn into tragedy. "We have three fatal accidents so far in Wisconsin. Typically we will average 20 to 25 fatal accidents a year," said Jung. Those could be prevented if you keep your distance from other boats and people in the water. "You have to operate slowly on a lake within any dock, raft, pier, public boat launch area, or occupied anchored boats," said Jung. Boaters aren't the only ones that need to follow the rules. People who use smaller water equipment actually have more rules to follow. "If you're on a jet ski, [there are] additional rules. You have to stay 100 feet away from any other boat or any other jet ski and 200 feet away from a natural shoreline," said Jung. Water safety experts think most people in boats don't wear life jackets. Life jackets can be the lifesaving difference during a crash. "A lot of the fatal accidents we have, although alcohol might have been involved, drowning was typically the cause of death," said Jung. All boaters born after January 1, 1989 need to take a boating safety class. Safety experts believe younger boaters get into fewer accidents because of the class. But they're still having trouble with older boaters. "They've just kind of gathered their knowledge through the years and they probably haven't read the regulation pamphlet in a long time. The best thing to do is take a class," said Jung. You can take the class online or in person. Safety leaders believe that small move could save lives.

Written By: Karolina Buczek

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