Fourth of July boaters reminded of new boating regulations

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) is advising boaters to be aware of new boating regulations, effective July 1, 2008, that affect hand tiller outboard motorboats and towed watersports participants.

The LDWF/LED researched boating incident statistics to determine factors that would reduce boating accidents and boating accident fatalities. Based on recommendations prompted by that research, new recreational boating regulations were implemented by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. From July 1 forward, anyone boating recreationally in Louisiana waters should be aware of the following:

•Anyone onboard a vessel less than 16 feet (Class A), propelled by a hand tiller outboard motor is required to wear a Type I, II, III, or V United States Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD) while the vessel is underway. A hand tiller outboard is described as an outboard motor that has a tiller or steering arm attached to the outboard motor to facilitate steering and does not have any mechanical assist device which is rigidly attached to the boat and used in steering the vessel, including but not limited to mechanical, hydraulic, or electronic control systems. This does not include any type of electronic trolling motor.

•Anyone onboard a vessel less than 26 feet (Class A and Class One), propelled by hand tiller outboard motors in excess of 10 horsepower, is required to use an engine cutoff switch while underway, if the outboard motor is equipped with such device. An engine cutoff device can be described as an operable emergency cut-off engine stop switch installed on a hand tiller outboard motor and that attaches to the motorboat operator by an engine cut-off switch link. These regulations do not apply to sailboats and vessels engaged in licensed commercial activity.

•Persons engaged in watersports, which includes but is not limited to waterskiing, towing a tube, wake boarding, wake surfing, etc… must wear a Type I, II, III or V PFD. An inflatable PFD does not meet the requirement. Vessel operators cannot tow a water sports participant who is not wearing a PFD. Certain exceptions are applicable for marine events that have been issued a permit by LDWF/LED and/or the United States Coast Guard.

The LDWF/LED also wants to remind boaters to follow the Boating Safety “Rules of the Road,” wear a PFD and designate a sober vessel operator this holiday weekend to keep Louisiana’s waterways safe for all boaters. For more information on boating regulations or boating safety, please visit the LDWF website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

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