Experienced boaters urge safety this Memorial Day weekend

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For many, this weekend will be their first time on the lake this season. That is why experienced boaters are keeping an eye on those who may not be as familiar with lakes or boats.

"Stay away from crazy people, stay away from the drinkers; you know get out there and have fun, but just watch what you're doing," said David Courdain, experienced boater.

"Not everybody's going to follow the rules and be safe. In most situations you're looking at alcohol being involved," said Shane Allman, former fishing guide.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, alcohol contributes to 50% of boating accidents. Last year 238 Texas boaters were arrested for boating while intoxicated (BWI). "You hear about boating accidents that could have been prevented had those people paid a little more attention," said Allman.

Allman said observation is crucial. "Pay attention to the cross traffic," said Allman. "it's the two boats that you don't see that can slam into each other."

"There's crazy people out here, I mean people would run right over you," said Courdain.

In 2008 there were 271 boating accidents in Texas, marking the highest number of accdients in 11 years. "Water is very powerful, water will trick you," said Courdain. "That's why these kids have to have life jackets on, they go under, they get a gulp of water and man they panic."

Texas law requires all children under the age of 13 to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

While Courdain's crew relies on him to keep their boat safe, he relies on something extra he can't quite explain. "It's God and a lot of luck," said Courdain.

He said do not push that luck too far, always boat safe. He also said it is important new boaters know the lake and know how deeps it is.

More Boating Safety Tips:

  • Be prepared before you leave for the lake. Click here for a predeparture check list.
  • Make sure all life jackets are up-to-date and working properly.
  • How prepared are you? Take this quiz to test your boating safety skills.