Illinois Conservation Police emphasize life jackets and sobriety while boating

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:09 AM CDT
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(25News Now) - As the traditional start to summer approaches, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Conversation police are reminding people to wear life jackets anytime they’re on the water and to only operate boats while sober.

This week, May 20-26, is National Safe Boating Week, leading up to the Memorial Day weekend.

In 2022, there were 52 reported boating accidents on the Illinois River that led to six fatalities and 40 injuries, according to conservation police statistics provided in a release.

in 2021, there were 93 accidents with 16 deaths and 28 injuries.

“Life jackets save lives, period,” said Illinois Conservation Police Lt. Curt Lewis, the state’s boating law administrator. “Everyone who heads out on the water should wear a life jacket, regardless of whether they’re on a motorboat, a kayak, a canoe, or a stand-up paddleboard. We want you to have fun, but most importantly, we want you to be safe.”

Illinois law requires that personal floatation devices, or PFDs – which are life jackets or life vests – be available for each person aboard a boat or other watercraft. The law also requires Illinois law requires everyone to wear a PFD while operating a personal watercraft or jet ski.

The Department of Natural Resources offers free boating courses that provide a review of boating laws and regulations - as well as instruction on the safe and attentive operation of watercraft.

The department encourages all boaters of all ages to take a safety course.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1998, must pass a course and have a valid Boating Safety Certificate to operate a motorboat with over 10 horsepower.