LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Nine of every 10 persons involved in a boating accident this year had no boating safety training, according to an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission report. There have been 73 mishaps on the water, and these resulted in 15 deaths, according to the report which covers the first 10 months of the year.
Capt. Stephanie Weatherington, AGFC's boating law administrator, made the report to the agency's commissioners at their November meeting in Little Rock. Capt. Weatherington stated "Reckless kids" aren't causing the accidents, Weatherington's report showed. "The operators involved in the accidents so far this year have an average of 100 hours of (boating) experience and are an average of 40 years old," she said.
Alcohol was a factor in 10 of the 73 accidents, with 5 of those 10 being fatal, she said.
Successful completion of a boating education course is now required in Arkansas for persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1986 to operate a boat with a motor or a sailboat. The boating accident report showed the leading causes of mishaps on the water were operator inattention, mechanical failures and alcohol use. Weatherington said that wildlife officers patrolling waterways have recorded 2,181 violations in 2011. These include 102 for boating while under the influence of intoxicants, 715 for not having personal flotation devices (life jackets), 66 for not having boating education certification and 36 for reckless operation of boats.