Did you know there are some important boating laws in RI designed to help minimize personal injuries on the water?
During boating season, there is heavier traffic on the water. Recently, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) made changes to the boating and safety regulations in time for the 2023 boating season.
In this blog, we are going to give you advice for sailing safely to avoid boating accidents, personal injuries, and receiving a boating ticket!
New Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Safety Regulations
As of March 2023, DEM made 5 new changes to the boating and safety regulations in time for the 2023 boating season. The new rules were designed to make sure everyone stays safe and avoids boating accidents and personal injuries.
1. Life Jackets Are No Longer Optional
According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning is the reported cause of death in 75% of all boating fatalities. Of those fatalities, 86% were not wearing life jackets.
According to DEM, the “mandatory personal floating device (PDF) wear for all paddle craft,” rule is most important rule out of the 5 new safety regulations.
If you violate this new rule, you may receive a $100 ticket (or more)! The PFD regulations state that all operators and passengers of canoes, kayaks, sailboards, kiteboards, paddleboards, and any other paddle craft must always wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved PFD while underway, regardless of age.
2. Power Boats Require Equipped Bow Seats For Passengers
As of March 2023, boaters must not ride on the bow of a powerboat, unless it’s equipped with bow seats designed to prevent passengers from hanging their feet and legs over the top of the gunwale anywhere on the boat while underway.
3. Closer Docking To Emergency Vessels
Boaters must now slow down and move over whenever emergency vessels are within 300 feet and have their lights on. Emergency vessels include the Coast Guard, harbormaster, firefighting, and DEM boats.
4. On Board Fire Extinguishers
A fire extinguisher will not only be required, but any fire extinguishers on board must abide by their expiration dates to avoid a boating ticket. You should be able to find the expiration date on the bottom of the extinguisher.
5. Cut-Off Switch Compliance
The last new regulation relates to engine cut-off switch compliance. The captain of a recreational boat that is 26 feet long or less that’s equipped with an engine cut-off switch must use the switch if the boat is “on plane or above displacement” speed.
A displacement speed is the speed at which the wavelength of a vessel’s bow wave is equal to the waterline length of a vessel. So, if the boat speed increases, the wavelength of the bow wave also increases.
Sailing Safe! The National Safe Boating Council offered these boating safety tips:
- Take a boating course
- Check your equipment and schedule a vessel safety check
- Make a float plan and let someone on shore know your itinerary
- Use an engine cut-off switch
- Watch the weather
- Keep in touch, have multiple communication devices on board
- Never boat under the influence
- Wear life jackets
We understand that boating accidents often occur when on a friend or family member’s boat. Regardless, you have important legal rights and there may be insurance proceeds available so you are not “suing” your friend or family member personally for money. So, if you or a loved one suffer personal injuries while boating or are in a boating accident, call or text the Bottaro Law firm 24/7 for a free case review.
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At Bottaro Injury Lawyers, we care for people. Attorney Mike Bottaro and his award-winning legal team handle all types of personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents, throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We can even help on cases in other states as well. We pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity, and results. Contact us 24/7 in any method you prefer for a fast, free, and confidential consultation about your case. Feel free to text or call us at 401-777-7777 or fill out our free and confidential online form. We are here to serve and help you!