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Boating Safety Tips for this Summer


Lakes and rivers in Upstate New York offer endless summer fun for the whole family. However, it is important to stay informed about the New York State boating laws and the proper ways to drive safely. Please take a moment to read these tips for a fun and safe summer season. If you have legal questions regarding a boating incident, please contact us today.

  1. Avoid overloading your boat. Every boat has a max weight limit. Consider the amount of gear on your vessel along with the number of people you plan to bring and plan accordingly. Overloading your boat not only makes it more difficult to control, but could also lead you to capsize. Law enforcement can terminate the operation of your vessel if they see that it is overloaded.
  1. Do not drink and drive! While boating and driving a car are very different, many of the same dangers are involved and the legal limit is still the same. To answer a common question: Yes, you can be charged with a DWI / DWAI in a boat or jet ski. An operator with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated. Keep this in mind to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.
  1. Be aware of speed limits. In New York State, boating speed limits often vary and are not always posted but boaters should always drive safely and keep total control of their boat at all times. Typically, the limit near docks, marinas, or workboats is 5mph. On some lakes, there are also different daytime and nighttime speed limits. Look up the specific speed limits for your lake before setting out for the day or night.
  1. Develop Signals for Water-Skiers or Tubers & Have an Observer. When pulling a person behind your boat, make sure to have hand signals established for safety reasons. Some important ones are: cut motor, speed OK, turn, speed up, slow down, and stop. Additionally NYS law states that you need an observer watching the skier in addition to the individual driving the boat. The observer can relay any signals to the driver and the driver can avoid the distraction of looking back.
  1. Always have a life jacket available for every person on board. According to New York State law, each person on board a vessel needs a life jacket in case of emergency. Life jackets must be stored in a readily accessible location on the vessel. Children under 12 also must wear a life jacket at all times while on a vessel (unless they are in a fully enclosed cabin).
  1. Stay Alert: look out for fishermen, swimmers, kayaks and boats that are pulling water-skiers, or tubes to avoid accidents.
  1. Check the lights on your boat. Many of us use our boats during the day, but during the summer season many of us head out at night to watch fireworks. Make sure that you have proper light sources on board before taking any late night trips. This will make driving easier and help ensure awareness and safety.
  1. Watch for shallow water! Keep an eye on your depth measurement to avoid a sticky situation.
  1. Have a HVF radio and/or cell phone on board. Hopefully, all you experience on the lake is smooth sailing. However, if something goes wrong, it is important to be able to have the ability to immediately call for help. It is also useful to carry a flare gun just in case.
  1. In case of a boating accident: Despite the many precautions you can take, boating accidents unfortunately do happen. At the Hacker Murphy law firm, our personal injury lawyers have represented boating accident victims throughout Upstate New York.

For more detailed boating safety information, please download the New York State Boating Guide.

For a complete list of boat launch sites by county, throughout Upstate NY, visit the New York State DEC website.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, contact us immediately to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one our experienced boating accident lawyers.  We offer convenient meeting times at any of our four regional law offices in AlbanyTroySchenectady, and Saratoga Springs, NY.

The Hacker Murphy legal team is available 24/7 for emergency situations by calling (518) 730-7270.