Reckless boat operators endanger the lives of others

Many people consider Memorial Day Weekend the unofficial start to summer. The sun is warm and the waters of our state’s lakes are ready for boaters. Time on the lake is a tradition people look forward to, but it’s important to remember to be on the lookout for reckless boat operators.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, a boat allegedly collided with and killed a 12-year-old boy on Smith Lake. According to reports, the 12-year-old was tubing, though more information isn’t available yet.

Boat operator safety begins at a young age

Boating in Alabama is a significant responsibility. People may obtain their boater safety certificate at age 12 and operate a boat under adult supervision. At age 14, people can operate a boat with no supervision with their boater safety certificate. It’s clear that Alabama emphasizes boating safety from a young age.

While it’s not known what exactly caused the death of the boy above, it’s a good time to remind you of some common violations of Alabama boating law. A few applicable violations here may include:

  • Speeding: The law requires boat operators to maintain a speed that allows for a safe stopping distance, doesn’t endanger others, or doesn’t violate posted speed limits.
  • Careless operation: This includes actions that are negligent, careless, or inattentive. A specific example on the Alabama boat safety website includes looking out for people and other boats in the water.
  • Reckless operation: Have you seen a boat operator weaving through traffic on the lake, jumping in another boat’s wake or circling another boat or person in the water? Then you have witnessed some examples of reckless operation.

A boat operator who fails to operate their vessel safety risks the suspension or even revocation of their boater safety certificate.

Everyone has the right to a safe day on the lake

Boat operators must remember that they are driving a potentially dangerous weapon and must be on the lookout for other boats and people in the water. Someone swimming or on an inner tube may be more difficult to see, but that’s why it’s so important for boat operators to pay attention. Everyone has the right to a safe summer on our state’s many lakes. 

The duty to operate a boat safely and the liability for the failure to do so rests entirely on the shoulders of the operator. You don’t have to tolerate the recklessness of others. If you see someone operating a boat in a reckless manner, don’t hesitate to report it. That driver is putting everyone else at risk. 

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