Keeping Lake Lanier safe for boaters
by The Gainesville Times
June 10, 2013 11:45 PM | 2014 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s official: Lake Lanier is a fresh-water boating paradise. That’s why Gainesville recently was featured as one of the top 10 most boat-friendly towns in America in the June-July issue of Boat U.S. Magazine. As the summer season gets under way on Lanier, now at full pool after last year’s drought, it’s certainly a status to celebrate.

Yet we do so soberly. Because just as the season had begun, a reminder of the dangers of boating already were staring us in the face.

The holiday weekend hadn’t even officially begun before midnight on Friday, May 24, when a boat and a personal watercraft collided near Old Federal Park. Two people on the watercraft were hurt and required hospitalization with various injuries.

The larger boat involved in the collision fled the scene and was discovered a day or so later to be driven by a teen who turned himself in when his father found the damage. Investigators are still reconstructing the accident, and charges may be pending. But this incident and others show why Georgia leaders felt the need to tighten boating safety laws this year. ...

Another change: Children younger than 13 must wear life jackets when on a moving boat.

Laws changing next year include requiring education for anyone renting a vessel as well as for people born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, who want to operate a vessel. Such a boating safety course must be approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

It’s clear all of those changes, and more, are needed. As Lanier gets more crowded and boat traffic increases, the dangers do as well. ...

When accidents do occur, the ability to locate and get help to the injured is much more difficult than on a major highway. It’s a big lake, and finding an injured boater in the vast darkness is difficult. The precious minutes it takes to reach the scene can make the difference to someone who is badly hurt.

All these factors combine to make the water a dangerous place when the proper precautions aren’t taken.

If Lake Lanier is to remain a place boaters love to navigate, it must be made safer.

Yet there are only so many laws that can be passed and a limited number of officers to enforce them. It falls to those who visit and play on Lanier to do their part to lessen the dangers.

That starts with responsible alcohol use. Some boat operators may think a few beers won’t affect their reflexes or ability to drive safely. ...

The habits of boat safety aren’t complicated or hard to follow. The consequences of an accident, though, can be life-changing.

We’ve seen enough accidents and lives lost on our beautiful lake. Boat U.S. Magazine knows what a great place Lanier can be.

All who travel its waters should do their part to make sure it stays that way.
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