To ensure everyone is kept safe on Manitoba’s lakes and rivers this upcoming Canada Day long weekend, the RCMP will be patrolling some of the province’s popular waterways.
“During the long weekend we guide our enforcement to the pressure points if we know there’s going to be a lot of people in water particularly in the Falcon area, lots of lakes there, and in Lac du Bonnet they do regular boat patrols,” RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Line Karpish said.
“The waterways are patrolled from time to time … but our enforcement is guided by what’s happening.”
Karpish urges boat operators to obtain the appropriate documentation, ensure those on board are equipped with a life-jacket and more importantly “that the operator isn’t intoxicated.”
“Unfortunately from time to time there are those out there that make poor decisions and we already know that water and alcohol don’t mix.”
She added that common boating offences can range in fines from $100 to $250.
Each year, approximately 125 people are killed in boating accidents across Canada and another 6,000 are injured, while millions of Canadians continue to operate their boat without a licence, according to BOATsmart. Boater’s licences have been required by law for almost 15 years in Canada.
In May, the government invested more than $1.8 million in funding for boat safety initiatives and two years ago, Transport Canada introduced stricter boating exam standards.
In April 2011, they increased the difficultly of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam by increasing the number of questions from 36 to 50, BOATsmart president Cameron Taylor said.
“It’s a better test of a boater’s skill and knowledge and the whole idea behind the operator card program is to ensure boaters have the level of competency to be safe on the water,” Taylor said.
“We definitely encourage boaters to go through the process … not just to avoid the $250 fine but to ensure that they have the proper knowledge when it comes to boat safety.”
Studying materials, practice quizzes and the exam itself can be found and taken online at boatsmartexam.com.
As boaters prepare for the long weekend, they can take the exam online and if they pass, print out the temporary slip, which will serve as proper documentation, Taylor said.
“It’s good for life and we encourage all members of the boating family to make sure they do get their BOATsmart operator card, not only the boating operator.”
Over the past 13 years since the program was introduced, Taylor said they’ve seen a “decline in the number of boating related fatalities and accidents.”
“So that’s positive news for the program and statistics show that education does make a difference.”
One of the things that boat operators can sometimes forget to do is wear a life-jacket that fits them properly, he said.
“It’s just like the seatbelt in your car, it’s not going to work unless you wear it.”
He also urges boat operators to learn the negative effects of driving a boat while consuming alcohol.
“Many boaters might not know that the effects of alcohol are four times greater on the water than when consuming it on land.”