"Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the start of the boating
season. Many individuals will be out on the water enjoying the
beautiful weather, but it's also important that they're mindful of
basic safety," said Flood. "I encourage those who haven't already
taken a boating safety course to do so. The techniques that are
taught in the safety education classes are potentially lifesaving."
Safety education courses are a key to the state's boating safety
effort. Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of all reported fatalities on
boats involved boat operators who had not received boating safety
People 12-18 years of age who operate a motorized watercraft by
themselves are required by law to possess a boating safety
certificate. State law also requires that anyone under the age of 13
must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in
length at all times the boat is under way, unless they are below
deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property. And
everyone, regardless of age, is required to wear a life jacket while
operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.
According to a 2006 study by the National Association of State
Boating Law Administrators, states that have the longest history of
boating education requirements also have the lowest average fatality
Illinois has the fourth-longest history of boating education
requirements in the U.S., at 29 years. Four other states have had
boating education requirements in place for more than 20 years --
New York, with 47 years; Michigan, 40 years; Minnesota, 32 years;
and North Dakota, 22 years.
Statistics compiled by the Office of Law Enforcement of the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources show that 17 people died
and 66 other people were injured in boating-related accidents on
Illinois waters in 2006. There were a total of 78 boating accidents
involving 118 watercraft last year.
In 2005, there were 16 fatalities and 100 others who were injured
in 115 boating accidents involving 152 vessels.
Accident reports indicate that of the 17 people who died in
Illinois boating accidents in 2006, 11 may have survived had they
been wearing a life jacket. In those fatal accidents, all 17 people
who died were on boats in which the boat operators either had not
taken or it was not known whether they had taken a formal boat
safety education course.
Among the primary causes of boating accidents are careless or
reckless operation, operator inattention, equipment failure,
hazardous water conditions, and alcohol use.
"During this time of year, a lot of people are out on the water,
some experienced and others who are going out for the first time,"
said Conservation Police Chief Rafael Guitierrez. "This can make for
a dangerous mix if people are not being safe. I encourage
individuals who plan on drinking to do so on shore; boaters and
anglers alike are reminded to be attentive; and equally as
important, people should always wear a life jacket. Those simple
steps can help reduce the risk of accident or serious injury."
Safety course schedules are available by phoning 800-832-2599 or
www.dnr.state.il.us. Illinois also offers an online boat safety
education course through
dnr.state.il.us. There is a $15 fee for the online course.
[to top of second column]
As a kickoff to National Safe Boating Week, IDNR Conservation
Police conducted courtesy boat inspections for the public on Sunday.
Officers checked watercrafts for proper registration, availability
of personal flotation devices and to ensure lights were in working
order, among other things. Citations were not issued during this
time. This is one component of the department's safe boating
awareness and education efforts.
Courtesy boat inspections were at the following locations:
Chain of Lakes,
Alsip boat launch,
Conservation Area, Des Plaines
- Grafton public boat ramp, Grafton
- Eldon Hazlet State Park-Apache boat ramp, Carlyle
The text of the governor's proclamation is as follows:
average, 700 people die each year in boating-related accidents in
the U.S.; nearly 70% of these are fatalities caused by drowning; and
WHEREAS, the vast
majority of these accidents are caused by human error or poor
judgment and not by the boat, equipment, or environmental factors;
1993-2005, the State of Illinois registered 4,521,660 recreational
boats. During these years 1,783 boating accidents were reported that
resulted in 230 fatalities and 1,117 injuries; and
significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each
year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets; and
life jackets are more comfortable, more attractive, and more
wearable than styles of years past and deserve a fresh look by
today's boating public:
THEREFORE, I, Rod
R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby
proclaim May 19–25, 2007 as NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK in Illinois,
and encourage all citizens to practice safe boating.
[Text from Illinois
Department of Natural Resources news release received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]