SPRINGFIELD –Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is urging boaters and anglers to be safe while on the water this spring and summer. IDNR also reminds boaters about the benefits of signing up for a boating safety class offered through the department.
“Safety should always be your first priority when it comes to outdoor recreation,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director, Marc Miller. “We are approaching the busy boating season, and while there are many opportunities for enjoyment, fun can quickly turn to tragedy if you are not mindful of basic safety. I encourage everyone to take the time to take the free safety courses offered through our department.”
Statistics compiled by the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement show that 13 people died and 78 were injured in 120 separate boating-related accidents on Illinois waters in Federal Fiscal Year 2008 (October 2007 – September 2008).
“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is concerned by the lack of boating safety education,” said IDNR Chief of Law Enforcement Rafael Gutierrez. “While the state of Illinois requires education courses for persons 12 to 17 years of age, statistics demonstrate that the majority of accidents actually involve older boaters who are not required to take any safety classes.”
Boating accident statistics show since 2000, 80% of injuries, 61% of fatalities, and 72% of watercraft involved in accidents were operated by persons between 20 and 59 years of age. Most of the operators in those accidents had over 100 hours of boating experience but little to no classroom safety instruction.
The leading type of accident involving injury in FFY 2008 was collision with another vessel. The leading type of accident resulting in death was falling overboard, or sinking/swamping of the vessel.
“Again and again, we see accidents, injuries, and sometimes deaths, that could be avoided, said Gutierrez. “This federal fiscal year, we have already seen 14 boating related fatalities, and last season, we had 13 deaths. Many of these could have possibly been prevented if a personal flotation device (PFD) had been worn.”
Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) boating safety courses are offered free to the public. The courses review boating laws and provide instruction on safe and attentive operation of watercraft. Safety course schedules are available on the IDNR web site at www.dnr.state.il.us/SAFETY/boat.htm