THE WISCONSIN DNR has urged its residents to celebrate safely and responsibly while recreating outdoors this labor day weekend. This importantly prioritizes drinking responsibly and not operating boats or ATVs under the influence, always wearing a life jacket, and wearing a helmet while operating ATVs or other vehicles.
So far this year, the statistics and reported accidents, incidents, and fatalities are higher than the whole of last year from boating fatalities and ATV/Vehicle accidents. There have been 13 boating related fatalities – 12 of which were reportedly not wearing life jackets. DNR Boating Law Administrator Darren Kuhn said about life jackets and alcohol – ““Emergencies are unplanned and can happen when you least expect it, emergencies do not allow the time needed to grab a life jacket and then put it on. – Alcohol use and poor decision making are the two biggest contributing factors that lead to boating-related incidents – Alcohol affects people very differently on the water than on dry ground. The constant exposure to sun, waves, wind and all other environmental factors increase the speed at which alcohol affects somebody while on the boat.”. State law requires all people born after January 1st 1989 to take a boater education course before they are legally able to operate a motorboat. On the land side of these statistics, there have been a reported 22 ATV fatalities, and perhaps more disturbing than the boating deaths, 20 of these were not wearing helmets. This is ahead of the 21 deaths in the whole of last year. Lt. Jacob Holsclaw DNR off-highway vehicle administrator said “We’ve seen more more crashes that involve minors – if you’re under 18 you are required by law to wear a helmet – even on private property. Across all ages we know that there is a much higher chance of serious injury when operators and passengers are not wearing helmets”. Wisconsin law requires everyone involved in a crash to report the incident to law enforcement, as well as submitting a written report to the DNR within ten days.
The DNR emphasizes one of the best things ATV operators and boaters can do, is to take an online safety course – a list of which can be found on the DNRs website https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/education/outdoorskills/safetyeducation . But again, wear your helmets and life jackets, and never operate any vehicle under the influence. Don’t become a statistic – celebrate and recreate responsibly this Labor Day weekend.