TWRA stresses boating safety this holiday weekend

Posted at 9:03 AM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 10:03:35-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Memorial Day weekend in Nashville is expected to bring huge crowds both on land and on water. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is expecting a lot of people out on boats, and they want to keep you safe.

Historically, Memorial Day Weekend has been the unofficial start of boating season in the Volunteer State, and two of the busiest lakes are Old Hickory and Percy Priest Lake.

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee. The TWRA also wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. They say it's important to consider the effects of drinking and driving. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors, such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun.

Officer Clay Hetland says you should also know the rules out on the water.

“If two vessels are head on with each other you pass court to court. Which means court side of the vessel is the left side of the vessel. So, each vessel will be passing each other on the left side. Which is the port side,” he said.

He says if you were born after January 1, 1989, you must have a boating license to operate one. Additionally, everyone on the boat is required to have a life jacket readily available to them.

The TWRA has more detailed information on boating laws on its website.

For those having boats on the water for the first time this year, TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe outing. For example, you can perform a simple maintenance check on hoses to make sure they are in good shape, make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.

Last year, there was one-boating related fatality during the holiday weekend. For all of 2020, the TWRA says there were 32 fatalities.