Our Views: No new boater laws needed — just more common sense

September 8, 2018

A single boat crash last week turned the summer into one of the deadlier boating seasons on Lake Havasu in recent memory. Seven people have died on the lake this year, despite attempts to improve safety after a similarly tragic 2017.

The knee-jerk reaction is to introduce speed limits and other traffic-calming measures, but anyone considering having that discussion ought to proceed with caution. We already have a lot of laws, and new restrictions can end up doing more harm than good.

The lake, after all, is a big draw for performance boats and tourists seeking an unrestricted good time on the water. Unnecessary and redundant new laws could end up discouraging potential tourists from visiting Lake Havasu in the first place.

And make no mistake, our lake is well legislated already.

We have laws to prevent boaters from drinking and operating a watercraft. There are laws that require navigation lights to be used at night. There are laws requiring personal flotation devices. If you’re a California resident, there’s a new state law requiring you to have a boating license to operate on our lake. We have all these laws, and yet accidents continue to happen.

Truth is, new laws won’t do much to prevent the kinds of accidents that have led to tragedy on the lake.

State law already requires that boats are operated at speeds appropriate for conditions, and the law has enough teeth for law enforcement to deal with irresponsible boaters.

Those law enforcement agencies do a pretty good job of maximizing enforcement during boating season, but we’d like to see them do even more, especially on holiday weekends. The simple visual of additional police boats could be enough to keep boaters on their toes.

What we need is a little more enforcement of the laws already on the books, and a lot more common sense among boaters. It’s clear that general awareness of boating safety guidelines needs much improvement. There are thousands of unskilled boaters on the lake each year.

They need education and guidance about how to have a good time while being safe and responsible. Fortunately, those aren’t mutually exclusive ideas.

— Today’s News-Herald

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