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June 25, 2007
Boating Fatalities Up Over Same Period Last Year
AUSTIN, Texas—Texas boating fatalities for the first five months of 2007 are up over the previous three years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports show. State game wardens say the increase underscores the need for boater education and shows why TPWD and its partners are this summer launching the Nobody’s Waterproof™ public awareness effort statewide.
From Jan. 1 to May 31 this year, there were 64 boating accidents resulting in 23 fatalities and 33 injuries on Texas waters. That compares to 20 fatalities for the same period in 2006 and only 13 for the first five months of 2005.
“While some lakes are doing better this year than in recent years, the overall trend is not positive,” said Maj. Alfonso Campos, TPWD’s chief of marine safety enforcement. “Last year we had 47 fatalities. At the rate we are going, we may exceed 50 fatalities for the first time since 2002.
Heavy spring rains and swollen rivers have contributed to the grim count. On a single day in late May, two teenagers and a game warden who was searching for one of the missing teens drowned on the Paluxy and Brazos Rivers near Glen Rose.
Other incidents have involved intoxicated boat operators and boaters operating in a reckless manner or failing to keep a proper lookout.
“These are all things that can earn a boater a ticket at the very least, and fines and time behind bars at worst,” said Campos. “But the most serious consequence of being unsafe on the water is that someone dies. That’s something you can’t ever undo or make right. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved in such an accident.”
Campos urged boaters to take a few simple steps to stay safe on the water during the busy summer boating season:
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, also known as a PFD or lifejacket.
- Avoid alcohol. At the very least, designate a sober driver for the lake or bay and for the ride home.
- Operate your boat at a safe speed; what might be safe in some places or in some conditions might not be safe in others.
- Keep a proper lookout — for hazards in the water, for the wakes of other boats, and for swimmers and water-skiers.
- Take a boater education course.
Some Texas lakes will receive extra attention this summer — particularly on busy holidays and weekends — with extra game wardens and beefed-up enforcement of Boating while Intoxicated and Public Intoxication laws.
TPWD, along with partners in the Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas areas, also this year launched a statewide social marketing campaign aimed at 18-34-year-old lake and bay enthusiasts.
The campaign, called “Nobody’s Waterproof,” was developed by the Lower Colorado River Authority and Enviromedia Social Marketing, Inc., for use on Lake Travis and Lake LBJ* last year. Country rocker Kevin Fowler is the statewide spokesperson this year, and has recorded radio and TV public service announcements which are available at the Web sites listed below.
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