Buckle Up For Boating

To avoid making waves on summer boating trips, make sure everyone in the craft is wearing a life jacket.

"The seaways, the waterways are becoming more crowded. You have to be more responsible and watch out for people with whom you share the waterways,"
Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater told CBS News.

Two other high-seas problems involve jet skis and alcohol use.

Calling them the "motorcycles of the seas," Slater said the primary problem with jet skis is speed.

"You really have to have special skills to monitor this kind of vehicle," he said. "And a lot of people just getting familiar with the vehicles don't have the kind of training that is necessary."

Alcohol use by boaters is a another major problem, although safety warnings in recent years have lowered the number of accidents involving drinking. For the first time last year, alcohol-related boat crashes accounted for fewer than 40 percent of all accidents, Slater said.

"It impairs your reflexes," he said. "It makes it difficult for you to appreciate distances, speeds and the like."

Here are other safety tips:

  • File a float plan. Tell others about the route you'll take and then follow it.
  • Know your equipment. Also make sure that everything on your boat is maintained properly.
  • Have enough life jackets for everyone on board and make sure all passengers have their life jackets on before your craft leaves the shore.
  • Don't drink if you're boating.
For more information on boating and boating safety, click here for the Web sites of the the National Safe Boating Council and the United States Coast Guard.