EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has put new regulations in place just in time for National Safe Boating Week and Memorial Day weekend.
Announced earlier this year, the new rules aim to make sure everyone stays safe while out on the water, and violations can come with a ticket.
One of the new regulations prohibits anyone from riding on the bow of a powerboat, unless it’s equipped with bow seats. The DEM said every summer, marine patrols respond to at least one report of someone — often a child — getting pulled into the water after having their feet dangling over the bow. Other calls involve people sitting on the bow, upsetting the balance of the vessel and causing it to take on water.
Boaters must also now slow down and move over whenever emergency vessels are within 300 feet and have their lights on, according to the DEM. Emergency vessels include the Coast Guard, harbormaster, firefighting and DEM boats.
If a boat is 26 feet long or less and is equipped with an engine cut-off switch, the operator has to use the switch if the vessel is “on plane or above displacement speed,” the DEM said.
Additionally, any fire extinguishers on board must abide by their expiration dates.
Environmental Police Captain Michael Schipritt told 12 News that disobeying these regulations doesn’t come without consequences.
“All the regulations that we implemented are just like all the rest of the boating regulation: violations are $100 per ticket, you go to traffic court as if it was a car or anything else,” he explained.
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
According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning is the reported cause of death in 75% of all boating fatalities, and of those, 86% were not wearing life jackets.
Wearing a life jacket is also now mandatory for anyone using a canoe, kayak, kiteboard or paddleboard. The new regulation comes after there were three deadly kayaking accidents last year. None of the victims were found wearing life jackets.
All life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved and they must fit properly too.