Three bills on boating safety signed into law in Illinois

Many people, especially children, enjoy the recreational activity of riding an inner tube while being towed by a boat. However, the same kind of activity left tragic memories for an Illinois Senator. Her 10-year-old nephew, who was enjoying the ride, was killed in a boating accident on July 28, 2012. He was struck by a drunk boater after he fell off the tube and was bobbing in the water.

To prevent such accidents in the future, the Senator has sponsored three bills, which were signed into law by the Governor on July 5. Two of the laws directly deal with the unfortunate incident that occurred two years ago, while the third relates to general safety procedures while boating. After these laws go into effect, boating DUIs will now be treated like drunk driving offenses. A drunk boater may now face an Illinois serious injuries lawsuit and may lose their boat if the offense is repeated.

One of the new laws requires that any watercraft operator born after January 1, 1998 who operates a watercraft whose engine has more than 10 horsepower, must have a safety certificate issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Another law emphasizes the on-water visibility of skiers and tubers. It states that boats that have a skier or anyone riding in a tube should display an orange flag on the boats highest point, in order to warn other boaters about the presence of the person in the water.

Illinois waterways have already recorded 16 fatalities this year, but these new laws may help prevent future waterway accidents. While the laws will not go into effect until next year, boaters can still display a flag in order to notify others about the presence of a tuber or a skier. Yet, despite these laws, some boating accidents may still occur because of negligent boaters or operators who are driving under the influence. In such cases, anyone injured in a boating accident may choose to file a lawsuit in order to hold a negligent operator responsible for any damages.

Source: Morris Daily Herald, “Our View: Legislation measures help boat safety,” July 15, 2014