Nashville/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 15, 2024
Tennessee Gears Up for National Safe Boating Week Amidst Rising Lake and River TrafficSource: Eagledj, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the sun gears up to play its warm symphony over Tennessee’s waterways, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is sounding the horn for National Safe Boating Week, beginning May 18 through 24. This annual initiative, a prelude to the Memorial Day splashdown, takes boating safety center stage. According to an agency release, it kicks off a widespread campaign to keep water enthusiasts responsible and ready on the waves.

With life jackets lined up as the week’s mascot, authorities underscore the importance of wearing the vital safety gear; meanwhile, Tennessee waters are set to experience a high tide of activity, particularly during the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial launch of summer's boating season. According to Betsy Woods, TWRA Boating Education Coordinator, in a statement obtained by the Tennessee government's website, "Be sure to boat responsibly, keep alcohol at a minimum, make sure your boat is in good working order and by all means wear your life jacket, it may indeed save your life."

The urgency of upholding safe boating conduct is relieved by TWRA's report of a surge in Tennessee's lake and river traffic, which comes with a sobering undercurrent. Paddlecraft accidents have accounted for two out of three boating-related fatalities this year. Therefore, the agency has set sail with boating safety courses, free vessel checks by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons, and the promotion of meticulous float plans that keep shore-bound souls in the loop.

Wrapped in the spirit of leisure and summer zest, Tennessee's boaters are counseled to stay vigilant, keep a wary watch on the weather, and keep a keener eye on their surroundings, a critical clutch as nearly a quarter of all boating incidents last year were pinned on the shoulders of operator inattention or improper lookout. The TWRA steers clear from merely slapping on warnings against boating under the influence. They ring the alarm on a stark statistic, "A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities," Woods shared, emphasizing the non-negotiable necessity of having a sober captain at the helm.