"Being prepared before heading onto the water is a key to everyone's
safety," said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. "Our Conservation
Police officers will be out on the water this weekend conducting
random boat safety checks to help ensure everyone has a safe holiday
Statistics compiled by the IDNR Office of Law
Enforcement show that 13 people died and 57 were injured in
boating-related accidents on Illinois waters in 2007. That is down
slightly from 2006, when there were 17 fatalities and 66 injuries in
Of the 13 fatalities in 2007, 10 might have survived if personal
flotation devices had been worn.
The leading type of accidents involving fatalities were
collisions with a fixed object and flooding or swamping of a vessel.
As is usually the case, most fatalities occurred on clear, sunny
days with mild winds and good visibility. Alcohol use, along with
operator inattention or carelessness, remains a major cause of
In 2007, operators between the ages of 20 and 59 were involved in
74 percent of boating accidents, and 38 percent of those involved at
least one fatality.
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
rates of all the states.
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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.
"While specific circumstances are different, nearly every boating
accident investigation we do has a common denominator -- that the
accident could have been avoided had safety been the focus," said
Rafael Gutierrez, chief of law enforcement for the Department of
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
anyone, regardless of age, is required to wear a life jacket while
operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.
Safety course schedules are available at
http://www.dnr.state.il.us/safety/boat.htm. Illinois also offers
an online boat safety education course at
http://boat-ed.com/il/. A $15
fee is charged for the online course.
Department of Natural Resources file received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information]